I work in the knowledge domain group which is responsible for powering the Bing Health vertical. From a professional perspective, the work is challenging. The search world is ever advancing, and we are at the cutting edge of technology. But what makes Bing Health special is the feedback we are getting from our users.
You see, researching health on the web is not like trying to figure out which restaurant to go to or finding the best deal on an appliance. The context is different. Many times it involves learning more about a condition that someone you care about has. You typically start your search in a stressful situation. Regular web searches bring back results full of sponsored content (advertisements), unqualified content (e.g. loosely moderated forums or Wikipedia which is not moderated at all) or content which is replicated over and over. Sifting through that content and trying to figure out what is relevant and what isn’t can take time and effort and it does not help a stressful situation one bit.
Bing Health does a lot of the heavy lifting by providing the user a concise and authoritative response to health related queries, thus it becomes part of the solution, not part of the problem. Though I can’t share it on this forum, we get a lot of very positive and touching feedback from our users, thanking us for helping them the information they were looking for in a time of high stress. It is very gratifying to read user feedback from people who felt that Bing Health was helpful to them in a time of need. It makes my day!
As for Bing and Microsoft, there are a lot of things to be excited about here; the sense of accomplishment is incredible. I work with top notch professionals in an environment geared towards success. The engineers here are very seasoned as well as the management structure. We have ambitious deadlines and commitments, but those are set with a responsible and realistic approach. Microsoft is the most mature company I ever worked for. This maturity should not be confused by stagnation, it is very dynamic. It sets ambitious goals and meets them. In the process, the people don’t get burnt out. Rather they learn and improve.
Bing as a whole is very dynamic – thousands of people working together to achieve great goals. Working together is the key to our success. I was pleasantly surprised how people from other teams (in different locations) will go out of their way to help each other. This level of cooperation is fundamental part of the culture at Bing.
I actually have friends that have been with Microsoft for a couple of years and they were always very positive about Microsoft, but before that, I always thought of Microsoft as a “huge ruthless cooperation”. Now that I work here, I see that it is a company that believes that if it invests in its employees and offers the best in class products; profitability (and happy shareholders) will come along naturally.
I was surprised at how much emphasis is put on personal growth, here. There are tons of courses we can take here (e.g., technical, managerial, etc.) so we can improve in many disciplines here. Microsoft as a company believes that it should be a place where its employees will grow and improve. It is an official part of the way things are done here. Career path is not an abstract term here, quite to opposite.
As a family man, finding a place where I could have a healthy balance between my work life and family was very important. When interviewing, Microsoft was very explicit about this. I was told “we recognize that an employee is part of a family and the only way we can get the best out of our employees is to respect that fact first”. This statement holds true.