Follow us:

Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

December 6, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Hiring of new Microsoft exec Qi Lu strikes diversity chord


Qi Lu, highest ranking Chinese American in Microsoft history.

Here’s a story from today’s paper with more reaction to the news this week that Microsoft has filled a strategically critical leadership role:

Chinese Americans at Microsoft and in the community cheered the appointment of Qi Lu as president of the company’s Online Services Group, noting the significance of his arrival at the highest ranks of the company.

“When people look at their own career potential in a company, they always look at if there is someone like them in the senior leadership team,” said Weina Wang, chairwoman of Chinese Microsoft Employees (CHIME), the largest company-sponsored diversity group, with 2,500 members. “And I think Lu’s joining Microsoft is definitely a huge encouragement, from a career-development perspective, for all the Chinese and Asian employees.”

Lu, who reports directly to CEO Steve Ballmer, will be the highest-ranking Chinese American in the history of the 95,000-employee company when he begins Jan. 5. He will presumably join the company’s 18-person senior leadership team, 17 of whom are white.

Nelson Dong, partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney in Seattle, said Lu’s appointment is significant for several reasons.

“More and more Chinese Americans are moving through the historic ‘glass ceiling’ that held them to purely technical positions in the past,” said Dong, who focuses on technology and Asian law, in an e-mail.

“Like Dr. Lu, they are moving up in more corporations today to take major leadership roles across all parts of companies, using and relying on their technical skills but no longer being limited to purely technical roles. Dr. Lu is assuming a position of major strategic and business importance to Microsoft.”

As president of the Online Services Group, Lu will head Microsoft’s Internet search and advertising efforts — the critical fronts in the company’s battle with Google. He led search and advertising engineering at Yahoo until August.

Dong, who is on the board of the Washington State China Relations Council in Seattle and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations in New York, said Lu’s selection has broader implications for corporations seeking talented engineers and executives.

“[T]op companies of the world must be prepared to have diverse management if they truly aspire to have a global impact,” Dong said. “China is a natural talent pool today, producing some 300,000 new engineers annually, and so it is fitting that Microsoft will now have such a senior leader who is fully representative of that enormous reservoir of technical abilities.”

Wang said members of CHIME were buzzing Thursday after an early report named Lu for the job. Ballmer confirmed the news internally later that day.

“Personally I was very excited when I saw Steve’s e-mail, and I believe a lot of Chinese and Asian employees here in the company share the same excitement,” she said.

I’d be interested to hear other peoples’ reactions to Lu’s appointment. Feel free to add your comments on this post or on the story itself, here.

Comments | More in Coming and going, Corporate culture, Personalities, Public policy & issues, Recruiting, Search, Yahoo


No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►