Lin Chen, Technical Account Manager
Technical account manager (MACH), Microsoft
Lin is training to become a product superstar as part of Microsoft’s famous MACH program!
Lin has been part of the competitive Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH). This two-year program gives new grads hands-on experience, hones their skills, and helps them grow their career within Microsoft. People across the company recognize MACH hires as high potential new recruits.
Lin is training to become a technical account manager. When a business client experiences problems with a Microsoft product – such as compatibility issues with a new software version – someone must help them solve it. “As a technical account manager, I oversee the support team that helps the client troubleshoot and solve the problem. We make sure to meet the client’s expectations so they end up happy,” she says.
Lin’s life changed when she discovered her passion for technology. “I’m from a mixed educational background. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do even three years ago, but now I know clearly what I want. I discovered my interest, pursued it, and now I am making a career of it.”
A day in the life
Lin's training included a weeklong gig at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, Washington. As a MACH hire, she spends her first year learning the ins and outs of Microsoft and its software products – and how to work effectively with clients. The summer had her traveling to Denver, Colorado for another training session for 600 MACH hires from around the world. “Different countries do things in different ways. It was eye opening and exciting.”
Lin works remotely from the Mississauga, Ontario offices for most of the week. She is part of an initiative where she reports statistics and analysis for an internal part of Microsoft. “I was so excited to be able to apply my analytical skills to the business immediately. And I felt so good that they let me take responsibility. I can’t wait to have my first external client.”
She spends another part of the day working on a shared “virtual” desktop with her “buddy,” a MACH graduate in technical account management. The virtual desktop lets Lin shadow while her buddy works from another location. “She’ll show me how to create a ticket and how you investigate to try to solve a program. We’re not in the same location, but we talk and share work every day.” She also has a coach, a Principle technical account manager, who she meets every other week to discuss her career development plan. Besides formal mentor relationship, Lin says there are tons of opportunities to learn. “I learn from everyone I interact with, my coworker, my manager. And when I ask, people come to me with learning opportunities.”
Lin headed back to Seattle to kick off year two of the MACH program. She also plans to take on clients in year two.
Why this job rocks
“I came out of school energetic and I wanted to do something meaningful and engaging –not just work for a paycheque. That’s why I applied for this position. I’m so impressed with Microsoft in terms of how much they invest in every employee to ensure they succeed. And Microsoft provides a team behind you to help you succeed. Now I wake up every morning and want to go to work. It is that good!”
- Lin earned her undergrad in engineering at Southeast University in Nanjing, China. She realized she liked interacting with people, so she also got a masters in management science with a specialization in communications from the University of Waterloo.
- She discovered her love of IT in a co-op job at CGI where she worked as a project delivery officer alongside developers, architects and project managers.
- After graduation, she got a job as an IT planning and execution analyst at Symcor. She worked on release management, where she helped control when software products would be released. But this was a contract position, and Lin wanted a career.
- Now she’s in the Microsoft MACH program as a technical account manager .
“When you’re a mobile worker, the 9-5 boundary kind of disappears. If I have to work from home, I may work from 8 am to 8 pm. You need to adjust your work/life balance,” Lin says. Right now she doesn’t have clients of her own so it’s easy to arrange her schedule. “Once I have clients or multiple clients, I will need to be flexible to be fair and to make time for every one of them.”
Tips for success
- Be willing to learn. “Technology evolves fast. A willingness to learn can help one stay ahead of the game.”
- Expect the unexpected. “Look beyond superficial facts and help the client identify the root cause of the problem.”
- Practice good communication skills. “A technical account manager needs to understand the client’s need and communicate in a language your client understands.”
- Be determined. “If you are passionate about technology you need to be persistent.” Lin’s mentor volunteered as a receptionist at Microsoft in high school because she really wanted to work there. “That’s how she got her foot in the door. Then she went to Waterloo to study computer science. It takes time.”
- Stay focused: No matter what goal you have, write it down, make a plan and take the time and effort to work towards it.