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EP:04 – A Conversation with Fiona Carney

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Fiona Carney is a Senior Director of Business Operations for Asia at Microsoft. Her background is in Consulting, where she worked with KPMG and Accenture in Business Strategy and Change Management for over 10 years. In 2007, Fiona joined Microsoft and has worked in numerous roles and led functions of the business- including Customer Experience, Sales, Operations and Account Management. She has worked with Microsoft partners for her entire career at Microsoft in EMEA and globally. Currently she leads a large cross -functional organization supporting the business in Asia. Fiona sits on the Diversity & Inclusion Council for APAC and is passionate about development of people and ensuring a diverse workforce. 

Show Notes

Podcast episode summary: This episode covers Fiona’s passion for teams, for people development, technology and the impact it can make on society as a whole. Fiona discussed her recent Masters program where she researched resilience and the impact of group coaching on resilience. In addition she shared her insights on what it takes to get at team performance citing the importance of leveraging peoples strengths, giving and being clear about purpose and mission, listening and looking for bright spots, having a shared context that is understood and remembering that behaviours are contagious. The following comprise the summarised bullet s of our conversation

  • Resilience is important in a world that is global, challenging, ambiguous and ever changing
  • In terms of building teams start with strengths-Microsoft use Strengths Finder –leaders need to be able to look under the “Iceberg” and understand what motivates their people
  • Not everything is governed by processes encourage people to seek clarity & link that back to your teams purpose 
  • Encourage your teams effort to look for “bright spots” places where best practice is exhibited
  • Shared context is essential-what are we trying to achieve together, how do our roles need to adapt, how can we make each other successful in that effort
  • Psychological safety is important to get at trust and to enable risk taking and learning. Simple to say hard to make happen
  • Role modelling is an important component of Leadership-model the behaviours you seek to see happen
  • Understand people and their cultural differences –Fiona describes her best team experience where a team of global experts were thrown together on a critical issue with wide stakeholder impact.  Their success was predicated on investing in time together, forming quickly and relinquishing the need to be right or precious, size of team was small and the mindset they adopted allowed for trade offs to be made easily
  • Microsoft has been going through its own cultural transformation and a lot of work has gone on to make their three values come to life, Energy, Passion and Success. A big focus is on having a growth mindset – where people can fail fast, learn and be empowered
  • Fiona is very interested in learning more about psychodynamics or the currents that flow beneath a team. She is reading books by Manfred Kets De Vries. 
  • Artificial Intelligence is really big and Fiona’s interest is in helping people be with that change and be relevant 
  • Fiona summarised by saying that Leaders of teams need to listen, provide a shared context, break things down into manageable meaningful goals, help people to look for “bright spots” and remember that behaviours are contagious. 

Quotable Quotes: “shared context is important” “safety, belonging and mattering” “Energy, Clarity and Success- 3 Microsoft values easy to grasp, easy to remember and easy to role model” 

Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Strengths Finder by Gallup 

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