The GM Shuffle

By now you’ve read the news.  MacBU has a new general manager.  I only found out about this via e-mail on Thursday, and, yesterday, I got a chance to meet Craig.  I’ll get to my initial impressions of Craig in a bit, but I also want to talk a bit about Roz Ho.

Before I talk about Roz, I should point out that, in Microsoft terms, I’m a wierdo.  That’s not just because I work on Mac software.  No, I’m an anomoly in a very different sense.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll mark my 17th anniversary of working on various versions of Word, all but one of them for the Macintosh.  That’s so rare, that people have suggested they make a place for me somewhere in the Microsoft Museum (just what I want: to become a museum piece).

Microsoft is pretty big on career advancement. It’s not a “move up or move out” kind of thing.  It’s more of a do something cool and good here, you get to do something cool and good somewhere else.  That’s why I’m such a freak.  I keep managing to advance my career without having to move on to something completely different.

For a general manager, this career advancement thing becomes something of a problem.  Opportunities to climb the management ladder start getting really thin.  So, how do you reward a GM for doing a great job?  You find a different kind of business for that GM to run—something that might involve cool new technologies, or something that requires a different approach to management, or a host of other kinds of chances to do something, well, different.

So, earlier this year, a very interesting and exciting opportunity opened up for Roz to advance her career.  This kind of thing always brings out mixed emotions in me.  I hate losing someone as good as Roz, but I’m also proud that someone from MacBU is being recognized for doing a great job.  I’m very excited for Roz in her new role, and I think it will be good for both her and for Microsoft.

Roz became the general manager of MacBU back in December of 2002.  She oversaw the release of what has been the most successful version of  Mac Office ever.  Her more than four years as general manager covers nearly half of Mac BU’s ten year existence.  Of the three general manager’s I’ve worked with until now, I think Roz has been the best, and she’s certainly been the most pleasant to work with (which is, by no means, a knock on either Ben Waldman or Kevin Browne).

I say all of this to express my personal gratitude to Roz for what she’s done for MacBU, for the Macintosh in general, and for me personally.  I’ll miss you Roz, though I still think you messed up the Connectix deal for not getting all of us our own “Switch/Switch Back” t-shirts.

So, what about Craig Eisler?  As I said, I only found out about this on Thursday, but I see that he’s a blogger and enough of an Apple enthusiast as to have 5 Apple TV’s, 3 iMacs, a Mac Mini, a Mac Cube and a PowerMac G4.  Oh, and, ah, I think there’s a video iPod in the mix as well.  So far, so good.

I did a bit of poking around the internet, and found quite a bit of information about Craig, like he was once a competitive power lifter, and he once, quite by accident, managed to bring down the entire Canadian banking system.  Four times.  In one day.

UWTV did this interview back in April of 2004.  It’s a bit long, but very interesting.

On Friday, we had a bit of a get-together out on the patio outside our building, and I had a chance to chat with Craig.  If I had to choose a single word to describe my first impressions, it would be “exuberant”—almost, but not quite, effusive. We swapped a few stories. Someone mentioned my suggestion box, and he said that he’d read my blog and thought the suggestion box was a scream.

So, he gets the Mac, he gets Microsoft and he understands that running a successful business is measured in terms of the value of the product to users and customers. Best of all, he gets my twisted sense of humor.  I’ll have to try out some of the Canadian jokes my daughter brings back from school.  C-eh?  N-eh?  D-eh?



Currently playing in iTunes: You da Mann, by the Derek Trucks Band

Comments (2)

  1. Odysseus says:

    I don’t know about her managerial skills, but surely Roz Ho had the worst spoken English of any Mac BU manager? She was also not very accessible to the outside world — I enjoyed being able to email Kevin Browne, and that wasn’t possible with Roz.

  2. Okay, watching the interview, he’s a scream. Total smartass too, and if he’s still lifting even casually, well, the combination of the two could be hi-LAR-ious at Macworld.

    Hopefully, he’ll spend a bit more time both with the MBU folks in and about the WWDC, and on the floor/in the blogger area. For a "company" as small as the Mac BU is, I’ve always wished its GM would act more like the head of a small company, and talk more to people.

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