Peggy Johnson is Microsoft’s head of business development, overlooking the company’s partnership efforts.
But she’s probably better known for being Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first big hire in 2014, when she jumped ship from Qualcomm after 25 years there.
On Wednesday, Johnson shared more details around her move to Microsoft during her keynote at BoxWorks, the big annual conference hosted by the cloud file storage company Box.
Johnson says she never answered recruiting calls before hearing from Microsoft because she was pretty happy with her life at Qualcomm in San Diego.
But after seeing Nadella make Microsoft Office available on Apple’s iOS shortly after becoming CEO, she became curious to see how the company was changing under Nadella’s watch. And when she finally got to meet Nadella and hear his vision, she was instantly convinced to make the move.
“It was all about rebuilding our partnerships in our ecosystem,” Johnson recalls hearing during her first meeting with Nadella. “He said, ‘I want you to make Silicon Valley our new best friend.'”
To underscore his commitment to a more open Microsoft, Nadella in fact created a brand new position for Johnson. Johnson orchestrated partnerships with a number of big companies, including Uber, Yahoo, and Salesforce. And even though Box is a direct competitor with Microsoft’s own file-sharing software, OneDrive, they have a partnership deal in place.
“It’s about working with everybody and agreeing there are points of competition, but let’s build a bigger pie for both of us rather than fighting over pieces of the pie,” Johnson said.
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