Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations Blog

The end of my 10 years at Microsoft

It’s hard to believe it’s over.  Ten years ago, the very first day of the new millennium, I made the switch from being the owner of a Microsoft Partner company to join Microsoft as an employee in their Midwest area headquarters in Downers Grove, IL.  This decision came as somewhat of a surprise to many people who know me since they were surprised that I was leaving the company I had started and grown for years into a successful supplier of computer software, hardware, customer-built PCs, networking services, and training with sales to customers in over 25 countries.  On the other hand, it was also not much of a surprise to these same people and many others since Microsoft was a key product line for us and Microsoft was a company that I said I would like to work for several years prior to owning my own company.  Since that day, what a journey the next ten years have been, and here are just some of my favorite highlights from that time.

MSSMALLBIZ_CD My first role in the Midwest area was as a Partner Account Manager (PAM), working with Small-Medium Business Partners in the Midwest Area (IL, IN, & WI).  This was a great role as I was able to meet so many incredible Partners and work with them on increasing their businesses and helping them better understand how to work with Microsoft and, yes, how Microsoft licensing works.  From the countless licensing seminars (anyone remember the CDs I used to give out at these with all of the information on them?  See the image to the left)  I gave all across the Midwest to working with Bob Hood and Cindy Slade as they kicked off the Chicago SBS User Group, I was able to meet hundreds of Microsoft Partners and wonderful people.  This is also where I met Harry Brelsford.

Harry and I met at one of his SMB Nation seminars in our Downers Grove, IL office.  It was at that time that Harry and I began talking and from that point on, Harry and I began communicating for years to come.  Over the years, I have had the privilege of not only giving presentations at, but also giving keynote presentations at several of Harry’s SMB Nation events and also participate in many other events and get togethers with Harry and members of SMB Nation.

MS SBCOMM LOGO After my role as a PAM, I took on a new challenge: “Find a way to connect with and engage with Small Business focused Microsoft Partners, resellers, and VARs across the Midwest Area.”  This was the beginning of the, “Microsoft Small Business Channel Community” that I launched in the Midwest Area back in March, 2004.  For those of you that remember the early days of the Community, it started out as a Microsoft SharePoint site for Partners with information posted to it, an email address for questions, and an MSN Messenger account.  Over time, the Midwest Area Community expanded to the U.S. Central Region Small Business Channel Community.  As it continued to grow quietly, I reached out to the SBS MVPs to ask them to beta test a new site I was planning to launch as a replacement.  Then on August 25, 2004, the new site launched (the original site) and instantly attracted attention by many, including CRN, eChannel Line, and many more.  Of course, Susan Bradley’s "post heard around the world," announcing the launch of the MSSmallBiz Community site had a little something to do with that.  From there, the Community expanded to include a User Group and then the Blog.  Here’s a flashback for several of you.  How many of you remember the 50 second MSSMALLBIZ Community promo below:


Click the video above to start it or the image below to view it in a separate window.


Or how about the:

image Less Than Coffee” site, promotions, and resources
image – “Less Than Fries” site, promotions, and resources

It was also during this time that the Microsoft license plates and license plate frames began, starting first with the SMLL BIZ plates.

Then in 2005, the time came for me to say good-bye to all of my family, friends, peers, and Partners in the Midwest Area and Central Region as I moved out to Washington state and took a role on the Microsoft U.S. Small Business Team in our Redmond Headquarters with the challenge to expand the Microsoft Small Business Channel Community across the U.S. as well as joining up with the team designing and planning to launch the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC).  While it was a tall order to try and compete with all of the great opportunities and memories from the Midwest & Central Region Teams, my time on the Microsoft U.S. Small Business Team proved to provide an entirely new set of wonderful opportunities and memories as well.  Here are just a few:

SBPIUS – Launch of and growing the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Program
PCMMapBtn – Creating and leading the U.S. Partner Community Manager Team that was announced at SMB Nation in 2005
00Car – Designing and launching the Microsoft NASCAR sponsorship program to build exposure for the Microsoft Small Business and SBSC programs
image – Making the Redmond Channel Partner’s 23 “must know” Microsoft Executives list
image – Leading the U.S. Open Value Subscription launch initiative as well as the design and launch of the Small Business Desktop Advantage product offering
image – Designing of a disaster relief licensing program for Louisiana
image – 30 questions, 30 answers, each in 30 seconds or less.  The “30 In 30.”

Plus many, many more.  Then in 2008, the time came once again to say good-bye, this time to the Microsoft U.S. Team, as I made the move to the Worldwide Partner Group.  Since that time, I have been part of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, focused on Microsoft Partner satisfaction worldwide as a Global Partner Experience Lead.  In this role, I have had the opportunity to meet, talk with, and work with Partners and Microsoft team members from countries around the world, and what a pleasure this is.  It never ceases to amaze me all of the fantastic things I continue to learn from so many of these people and what a great feeling it is when I can also assist them. 

All in all, what a wonderful ten years it has been and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  The memories and highlights above only begin to scratch the surface of all of the wonderful times there have been.  Thank you to all of the Partners and all of the Microsoft team members (both current and past) that have made the past ten years such a wonderful experience!

Now here we are, the first day after my 10th year at Microsoft comes to an end, on day one of my 11th year. I look forward to this second decade of my Microsoft career beginning today with both you, the amazing Microsoft Partners around the world and with all of the incredible people here at Microsoft that I have the fortunate opportunity to work with each and every day.  I am excited to continue to meet and interact with all of you either in person or through any of the online opportunities, including: my Blog, my Twitter account, MSSmallBiz User Group, Linkedin, Facebook, or any other method our paths may cross. 

By the way, if you have a particular memory or experience from our working together these past 10 years that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you again to all of you for an incredible first ten years of my Microsoft career and here’s to another ten together!

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Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER clip_image001and RSS clip_image002
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
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