Microsoft’s campus celebrates 20 years in Fargo
Microsoft’s campus celebrates 20 years in Fargo
For many of us, today’s technology makes it all too easy to get wrapped up in the future, excited for innovation and hopeful for new successes that come with new decades, often putting the past in the rearview mirror. At Microsoft Fargo, this excitement is certainly noticeable; however, it can’t be severed from a strong pride of their roots. It is clear that the leaders and 1,600 Microsoft team members all recognize and are authentically proud of that the fact that successes they celebrate each and every day, are tightly tied to their start.
Microsoft Fargo recently celebrated their 20-year anniversary of their campus. This wasn’t 20 years of Microsoft Fargo; the team and community celebrated the roots of the physical location they have called home for 20 years now. Further driving home the importance of people and place, their celebratory program included numerous mentions of the many hardworking individuals who built Microsoft up to what it is today, including Governor Doug Burgum, and former site leader Don Morton, as well as a 20-year celebratory logo of a tree on the campus that has flourished over the past 20 years, similar to that of the businesses itself.
As Microsoft Fargo’s Site Leader, Sandi Piatz says this site has a lot of depth, referencing the numerous areas including research and development, customer service and support, accounting services, payroll, sales and more.
All of this and the strong culture today can be traced back to the humble beginnings of Great Plains Software. After betting the family farm, Doug Burgum became president and CEO of Great Plains Software. This once-small tech company located in Fargo broke ground on a new Fargo location, and in September 1999, opened the doors to the Horizon Building, the first building at Microsoft Fargo’s current location. Since then, the campus has evolved, growing to become home to four buildings and becoming Microsoft after being acquired in May of 2001. This was no small acquisition for Microsoft in 2001; in fact, it was the most expensive acquisition that Microsoft had made up until that point in time Since then, Microsoft has grown immensely. Piatz shared that when Microsoft acquired Great Plains Software, they had about 2,000 employees globally. Today, the Fargo campus alone has 1,600 team members.
Though much has transformed around the campus since 1999, including a technology shift to the cloud, a hardware transformation from servers in rooms and phones on desks to mobile devices and working anytime any place, data has become the new oil, and bots, artificial intelligence and quantum computing are now part of our every day, , what has not changed is that Microsoft is still a global company that believes in being customer obsessed and has the same strong values.
“One Microsoft” is one of the main pillars of Microsoft. Piatz described this as every Microsoft employee around the globe, no matter where they sit, having the same mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. This cohesiveness complemented by a strong embracement of diversity, allows Microsoft to succeed.
Piatz explained the importance of hiring diversity. “It helps us understand our customers because all of our customers are so diverse,” she said. She added that it gives them a wider range of ideas, which breeds unique thought leadership. A commitment to diversity doesn’t just mean hiring diverse individuals of ethnicity, background, perspective, abilities and thought. It means giving them a place to belong. This is why Microsoft has various employee groups open to diverse passions, backgrounds or interests to support inclusion. Their employee benefits don’t stop there though, they offer tuition reimbursement programs, wellness programs, career and professional development, parental leave for both mothers and fathers, family caregiver leave, employee stock purchase plan, and more.
Microsoft is also committed to empowering their employees to give back to their communities. They have found a unique way to partner with their employees in this mission through their employee giving campaign. Microsoft matches $1 for $1 and an hour of service for $25 up to $15,000 per employee per year to any charitable organization. This campaign has been extremely successful in encouraging Microsoft employees to give both financially and of their time. In fact, Microsoft Fargo is one of the most charitable sites with $1.9 million coming from Fargo alone just in the last year.
This dedication to community has been a part of the very fiber of Microsoft Fargo. Piatz sees this as a way to connect people to the community saying, “Serving in our community gives us a greater place to live.” In addition, as a large tech employer, Piatz views it as their responsibly to continue to build an ecosystem of technology in the region, constantly striving to answer the question of “How do we help support our own backyard?”
“A combination of great talent, background of dynamic heritage businesses, and strong culture across the campus” is what makes Fargo so unique, Piatz said. She further plugged that Microsoft Fargo is always recruiting and looking for great talent to join their team as the people are one of the biggest variables in making the Fargo site location so wonderfully unique.
Microsoft Fargo has come full circle. From their early beginnings on a farm and the groundbreaking of the first building, to now as a growing tech company that contributes to their ag beginnings through investments in initiatives such as the Grand Farm. Microsoft Fargo truly understands and cherishes its roots. Like the large tree that has flourished for 20 years on their campus and has become a symbol of their 20-year anniversary, we are excited to support such a great organization and watch as they extend their roots further and grow beyond imagination while they work toward celebrating many more decades of the Fargo site