Satya Nadella's first big hire as Microsoft CEO tells why she took the job

Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive VP of business developmentBloomberg WestPeggy Johnson, Microsoft executive VP of business development

Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s executive VP of business development, appeared on “Bloomberg West” on Tuesday, and shared her thoughts on Microsoft and its renewed openness towards partnerships.

One comment that particularly stood out was her response to why she joined Microsoft last year, after spending 24 years at Qualcomm, when she became Nadella’s first major hire since being named CEO.

“I had watched his progression and I was curious about his vision. He seems so different,” Johnson said of Nadella. “And out of the blue, when I got a call to look at the role as head of business development, and got to meet Satya in person — he’s such a change agent. And I was all bought in, I picked up and moved to Seattle.”

In fact, her hiring made more headlines because Nadella created her position for the first time at Microsoft. And she’s been nothing but impressive during her first 12 months leading Microsoft’s partnership efforts: she’s already struck deals with Uber, Yahoo, Dropbox, and AOL.

“Satya recognises the importance of working with partners, so I think you’ll continue to see perhaps surprising relationships in the year ahead,” she said.

It’s no secret that Satya Nadella has turned Microsoft into a nicer and friendlier company after being named CEO early last year.

That changed image will be on full display Wednesday, when he gives a keynote speech at Dreamforce, the massive annual conference hosted by Salesforce — the company that used to have one of the most contentious relationships with Microsoft in the pre-Nadella period.

“Basically, we’re here because we’re good partners,” Johnson added. “For sure, we have areas of competition, but we have many more areas of synergy, and that’s what we’re choosing to focus on with our Salesforce partnership.”

Since early last year, Microsoft and Salesforce have actively pursued partnership deals, ranging from a Salesforce app for Outlook, much stronger integrations with SharePoint and OneDrive, and a partnership with Power BI, Microsoft’s data analytics solution.

Nadella’s keynote speech will begin at 5PM PST tomorrow. Johnson said Nadella will focus on 3 areas: “reinventing productivity and business processes, creating a more personal computing experience, and building the intelligent cloud.”

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