Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1002/jcaf.22324
Published date01 April 2018
Date01 April 2018
153
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com).
DOI 10.1002/jcaf.22324
Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover
Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better
Future for Everyone
Dov Fischer
BOOK REVIEWED
Satya Nadella, Greg Shaw, and
Jill Tracie Nichols, 2017, Hit
Refresh: The Quest to Redis-
cover Microsoft’s Soul and
Imagine a Better Future for
Everyone (New York: Harper-
Collins), 272 p, forward by
Bill Gates.
In 2014, at the age of 46,
Satya Nadella was named as
Microsoft’s third CEO in its
40-year history. During his
first three years at the helm,
the company has experienced
a renaissance on Wall Street.
It is now the third most valu-
able company after Apple and
Alphabet and trades at levels
not seen since its heyday two
decades ago.
In “Hit Refresh”, Nadella
describes his journey, which
began in India as the only child
of a high-level civil service
father and teacher mother.
The journey continues as a
young immigrant in the United
States studying at University of
Wisconsin at Milwaukee, where
he earned a master’s degree. At
age twenty-five (1992), Nadella
joined Microsoft and began his
steady climb up its ranks. The
book describes the leadership
qualities that enabled Nadella,
who had few noticeable advan-
tages, to rise to the very top of
the business world.
The book can be classified
in the leadership/strategy/inno-
vation genres. However, Nadel-
la’s business experience and
philosophy also contain impor-
tant lessons for finance profes-
sionals. Nadella’s first high-
profile assignment was to head
Microsoft’s faltering cloud
business in 2010. At the time
the Servers and Tools business
(since renamed Commercial
Cloud) was Microsoft’s third
largest business after Office and
Windows. Nadella quickly real-
ized that Servers and Tools was
doing a great job at servicing its
existing customer base, but was
missing out on the fast-growing
cloud business: “Each leader
in the group was, in essence,
CEO of a self-sustaining busi-
ness… they were making all
this money and now this little
squeaky thing called the cloud
came along and they didn’t
want to bother with it” (p. 57).
Cloud services were already
generating billions of dollars
in revenues for Amazon, which
had a near-monopoly on the
business.
Nadella’s challenge was
to motivate the Servers and
Tools leadership to embrace
the cloud vision. To accomplish
this, Nadella leveraged the busi-
ness’s existing strength, namely
its expertise in enterprise cus-
tomers’ internal networks. The
result was a hybrid cloud strat-
egy that combined the security
of internal networks with the
access of public clouds. The les-
son for leaders of change is to
build on existing competencies.
This is even more important
for psychological reasons than
for strategic and tactical rea-
sons. This hybrid approach to
embracing the cloud opportu-
nity gave Nadella’s team a sense

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