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testimonials - microsoft

Through the 1990’s Microsoft UK grew from 40 people and $15m revenue to 900 people and $1bn revenue, and overcame awkward early years to become a “Best Employer” and prize-winner in Employee Engagement levels.

David Svendsen, CEO of Microsoft UK 1988-2000, reviews Microsoft’s collaboration with Mitchell Leadership Consulting through this period.

Back in those days, as Country Operations, we ran our own operation and were in charge of developing the market and, of course, delivering on the bottom line profits.

The key ingredient for me was then and always has been leadership - and the catalyst for me improving on that was in fact my meeting with John Mitchell and that was way back in 1988 - and I shall be forever grateful for the contribution that John made to my organization.

Because in the period of time that John worked with me business grew from, in 1988, 40 people and a revenue of 15 million dollars to, in the space of 10 years, 900 people and over a billion dollars.

Now, all of that wasn’t easy: it was fast growth; it was very unstructured; it was a fast-moving operation and John’s programs were fundamental in achieving direction that the company needed.

So how was this done? Well, there were four programs over that period of time of 10 years.  The first started in 1988-89, which was called Governing Change, and that was really focused on my team of five or six managers which at that time had to be reconstituted.


And through that program my top team understood what running a business on a longer term basis was - and managing change which clearly, given the results and where the company was, really needed to happen. So that helped in terms of developing the core leadership skills as well as the communications skills and the attitude that my team of managers needed.

The second and third programs were called Creative Decision-Making and Strategic Thought and Action. Once again that had to start with myself in fact and also my management team, but then cascaded throughout the organization, because by that time the organization had got bigger - the results were coming through.  In fact, the results were coming through very very fast, 50% growth each and every year – like riding on a charging horse in many ways.

So this further reinforced everything the top team was doing, but spread throughout the organization.

The fourth program, Managing at Microsoft, further reinforced that and cascaded throughout the entire organization, particularly Middle Management. 

As a result of all of this hard work, by the mid 1990’s Microsoft were acknowledged as the Best Employer - in fact we received awards for this over a couple of years.

Importantly the Employee Satisfaction was the best in any of the Microsoft operations and in fact in the UK itself and that’s something that I am very very proud about. I am also very proud of the fact that all of my key managers evolved into even bigger roles within the Microsoft world at a global level.

For myself I benefitted personally through another program that John Mitchell ran, where myself and a number of another CEO’s of various organizations met on a monthly basis, and we discussed similar issues, leadership issues, issues of the day, and that was a pretty neat way for any CEO who after all has a fairly lonely job - can’t exactly articulate some of their challenges - but to be able to have the ability to articulate that with other people at a similar level, that was a whole learning phase that we could all  approach, so from a kind of workshop approach it was a very interesting way of developing my own self and my own capabilities.

Now the R&D that underpinned all of these programs - they are unique. I haven’t seen this type of program anywhere in the world.


Mitchell programs are ideal, I think, for any leader who wishes for the business to expand, to grow, and to be a long-term asset. They offer tremendous value for any organization that is seeking leadership, growth and a rich environment within the organization.

If you wish to move your business forward, if you want to have a rich environment, a rich set of leaders that can take your business forward, I would definitely recommend Mitchell to you.

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