No dream is too big, if you aren’t afraid to reach for it.
That philosophy has led Priyanka Singh Deo to success in her ideal job, in a city she’s come to love as home — on the other side of the world from where she started.
“Sometimes, when you think about things, they seem impossible. But, if that’s what you want, you find a way,” said Singh Deo, M.B.A. ’14. “I’m pretty much living my dream job.”
As a project manager for Microsoft, one of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies, she currently works from her apartment overlooking downtown Seattle. She is responsible for managing a team of 21 engineers who work with start-up developers to implement their entire technical needs on the Azure cloud platform.
“This is my pride and joy at Microsoft,” she said. “At this point, I’ve helped more than 5,000 start-ups be successful. When we started Azure, I saw an opportunity to help developers adopt our program and founded Azure Consultants. It started as a pilot program, and now it’s an integral part of Microsoft and Microsoft for Start-Ups.”
It almost seems like too much for a woman who grew up in a British boarding school in India — but that background gave her the tools she needed to seek out the next opportunity.
“Moving away and starting new was instilled in me from a really young age,” she said. The experience was similar to what Americans see in the Harry Potter movies, she said, with students assigned to houses, and earning points for their house in the classroom and on the athletic fields.
“It was really wonderful,” she said. “In a sense, it taught me to be independent at a young age. I learned to make friends quickly. When you are away from home, your friends are your everything. I’ve never had to work on learning interpersonal skills, because they just came naturally from this experience.”
With that sense of independence, she left India for the very first time shortly after graduating, for college in the United States. That led to her first job, working for an engineering firm in Munich, Germany. She noted that her colleagues all had advanced degrees, and knew she would need more school to achieve her career goals.
That led to IU Kokomo, where she was a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life while earning her M.B.A. She missed the atmosphere of Munich, with its big city lifestyle and opportunities for outdoor adventures, however, and kept her eyes open for a city with a similar vibe.
She found what she was looking for on a fall break trip to Seattle, and began intentionally using LinkedIn for connecting and networking, building towards getting her foot in the door at Microsoft.
“Finding good mentors is really important,” she said. “They are already where you want to go, and can give you the best direction for how to get there. I knew I wanted to be a program manager, so when I saw someone on LinkedIn who had that title, I would message them and say, ‘I’m in college, and I want to get to where you are. I would appreciate it if you would take some time to talk to me.”
LinkedIn is where she learned about her first job at Microsoft. Within a week of receiving a job offer she packed everything she owned into her Toyota Corolla and set off on a marathon 32-hour drive to the west coast — with no place to live lined up, but with plenty of faith in her own ability to work out the details, because she wanted it badly enough.
“I feel truly fortunate with coming this far, and finding a job I love,” she said. “I’ve worked other places where it was just a job. Now, I can wake up in the morning and start doing something that’s almost second nature. This is my passion, this is what I want to do.
“I do feel really blessed and lucky to be here.”