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Microsoft Education VP’s Enthusiasm for Learning and Technology

Margo Day's continuous inspiration for student learning

graduates Margo Day is a tech industry veteran with 33 years experience in the industry. She currently serves a VP of U.S. Education at Microsoft, where she has worked in various capacities since 2001. Despite all those years, Margo is not the stereotyped established veteran of the tech industry. To the contrary, she has an infectious enthusiasm and passion for her job and the industry as a whole.

I spent some time with Margo at the ISTE conference last summer in San Antonio. We talked about her role at Microsoft as well as her vision for Microsoft’s role in education. Below is the transcript of what proved to be a very interesting and highly informative conversation.

Interview:

Dr. Berger:  Margo, it’s really nice to be spending some time with you today.  Everybody and their neighbor knows Microsoft, yet they may not know it in education. I would imagine that in your position, it’s a bit like being an explorer. You have the foundation; you have the resources to be able to chart a course that others wouldn’t be able to because of the sheer size and relevance of Microsoft in technology.

I’m fascinated; what is it like for you at the end of the night when you’re closing down and you think about education and what Microsoft can be doing?

Margo Day:  I’m totally energized. I’ve been in the technology business for 33 years; I’ve been with Microsoft for 17 years and I’ve been leading their education business for about 5.

students working with a laptopThe world of tomorrow is going to look so different than the world of today. As adults, we really have this remarkable responsibility to be part of the team ─ and when I say “team,” I mean everyone, not just Microsoft ─ to truly come alongside the technology and transform this learning environment in K-12 so that we really are preparing our students for a tomorrow that looks different from today.

In that context, viewed from the perch of my responsibilities, I’m super energized. And here’s why: Microsoft is an enterprise company, meaning we’re one of the top technology companies, one of the top global companies.

We bring a vast number of resources and solutions to the problem, and we understand that education institutions are enterprises in and of themselves. We try to understand how to really empower and infuse the learning environment with interesting and creative things to spark the creativity in student minds so that learning is engaging and fun, as opposed to “Oh, man… some lady is talking to me again.”

It’s a long answer but I feel that way. I feel the responsibility of this and I feel that the corporation is so deeply committed to education.

I continuously ask myself, “Am I doing the right job for Microsoft to make sure that people truly understand what we have and where we’re going in partnerships so that everybody has the knowledge and can make the choices that they have to make?”

DB:  Let’s talk about the challenges. You have a global society that knows Microsoft ─ the brand awareness and recognition is there. But it’s not just “Well, I use Microsoft, so I guess I can use it in a classroom.” How do you share the apps and programs where people say, “You know what, I didn’t realize that it really is fine-tuned for what we’re doing in the classroom?”

How do you drill down so that people understand the application and specificity? How do you communicate that conversation?

MD:  At the end of the day, we have to simplify our messaging. That’s what it takes. We really are all about helping to drive student outcome and student impact in learning.