Like many students looking for potential answers to where their career path might take them, Rakhi Voria was at a recruiting event at the University of Oxford in England when she found hers.
After growing up in Golden, Colo., and attending Colorado College for undergrad, Voria moved to England to get a master’s degree at Oxford.
“While at Oxford, I attended a Microsoft recruiting event and was impressed with its vision, breadth, and impact across the globe,” Voria said. “I loved that it offered so many options and experiences with products spanning across consumer and enterprise, offices all over the world, and jobs across every business function imaginable. Technology has the power to change the world, and the wide-eyed millennial in me wanted to be part of that change.”
Voria has now been at the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant for five years and is currently the chief of staff to Debbie Dunnam, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Inside Sales. Voria is also GeekWire’s latest Geek of the Week.
She said there were only a handful of employees when she joined Inside Sales a year ago and today there are over 1,200 team members globally.
“As one of the first members in Inside Sales, I’ve had the opportunity to help build foundational elements for our Inside Sales Centers — everything from recruiting and interviewing new hires, to providing input into the programs, processes, and tools that they need to be successful.”
Voria is also a strong advocate for advancing women in business/technology and currently serves as co-chair on the Women@Microsoft Board.
“This employee resource group is designed to help women grow their professional skills and expand their career options,” Voria said. “I’m very interested in building partnerships with other companies to learn about how they support, advance, and retain their female talent.”
Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Rakhi Voria:
What do you do, and why do you do it? “In July, Microsoft announced that it would be restructuring in an effort to better support customers and partners. As part of my role, I was fortunate enough to have a seat at the table and help reshape our go-to-market strategy. A part of this strategy was to increase investment in an inside sales engine in order to engage customers with the right touch at the right time, with the right insights to drive business outcomes.
“The company has placed a big bet on Inside Sales. Our goal is to build a world-class sales organization and to make Microsoft Inside Sales the best place to work in the industry. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art Inside Sales Centers in Sydney, Delhi, Beijing, Tokyo, Dublin, San Jose, Dallas, and Fargo and we are building an amazing culture!
“Oftentimes people have to decide between working at a lean startup or a big corporation, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a startup environment within a massive company. You might think that the stakes aren’t as high sitting under a corporate umbrella, but sometimes they’re actually higher due to ROI expectations and political pressures. I’ve loved the challenge of building a business from the ground up — there are so many decisions that require trade-offs, courage, and decisiveness.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Customer buying preferences are shifting toward digital engagement, and digital transformation is enabling deep analysis and rich customer conversations like never before. A new study by InsideSales.com just reported that the time spent selling remotely by field sales reps increased 89 percent over the past four years. Inside Sales is no longer “a cattle barn of phone stations with reps penned, calf-like, making call after call.” Instead, it’s become a way for companies to address customers’ needs in a consistent and scalable way while maintaining much more personalized relationships. I think we’ll see more companies shift toward an inside sales (digital) model vs. a field sales (in-person) model, leading to cost efficiencies.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “People. My family, friends, and team members are my greatest source of inspiration. Hearing about the successes of other people and companies inspires me to do my best and to set the bar even higher.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “My noise cancelling Bose headphones. I travel internationally 1-2x/month, so these are my saving grace when it comes to sleeping on planes and listening to conference calls, audiobooks, or music while I’m on the go.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “I work on the Microsoft Redmond campus, which is almost like a mini world. It has many of the basic necessities you might need like a post office, health center, and eye doctor, to name a few. Just last week, I was able to take passport photos, order a new pair of eyeglasses, and pick up some groceries from the farmers market — all on campus. I love the convenience of having these things in one place!”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “Document. My corporate VP and I are constantly on the go, buzzing from meeting to meeting, capturing two new actions for every one action we complete. To ensure that nothing slips through the cracks, I document pretty much everything. I find that this not only helps us stay focused and organized, but it also helps us when we need to look back and reference why we made some of the decisions that we did. This is particularly useful in the environment that we’re currently in since we’re in the midst of transformation.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Windows.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Janeway.”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Cloak of invisibility. That way I wouldn’t have to rely on the internet to creep up on people, muahaha.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “Create a scholarship fund and skills-based training program for underrepresented girls.”
I once waited in line for … “An hour for a Chik-Fil-A sandwich when it opened in Bellevue. Priorities…”
Your role models: “My mom, Purnima Voria. She’s an agent of change in the community — never letting hardships set her back. Although she raised me and my two older sisters alone, even working three jobs at one time, she still found time to serve on various political, cultural, and economic boards and commissions. Today, she’s the CEO of her own company and served as a national advisor to the Obama Administration. She’s an amazing example of the ‘American Dream.’”
Greatest game in history: “Chess. It takes strategy, skill, and patience.”
Best gadget ever: “Travel Smart international adapter/converter. Again, amazing gadget for international travel.”
First computer: “MacBook.”
Current phone: “iPhone 7. Pink glitter case, of course.”
Favorite app: “Uber/Lyft.”
Favorite cause: “Anything related to women’s empowerment.”
Most important technology of 2016: “Virtual/augmented reality.”
Most important technology of 2018: “Artificial intelligence.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Be yourself and believe in yourself. Let your geek flag fly high!”
LinkedIn: Rakhi Voria