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Satya Nadella: Hitting Refresh on the Culture of Technology

When Satya Nadella assumed the top job at Microsoft in 2014, becoming the third CEO in the company's 40-year history, his goal was to dramatically shift the company’s focus to areas that will define the future of technology, particularly artificial intelligence, mixed reality and quantum computing. In this discussion, he says a key to this transformation has been creating a culture that emphasizes learning and empathy. 

On creating a culture of empathy: “I can't just go to work and switch on this button called ‘the empathy button’ and then I'm going to be empathetic and all of my innovation is going to come because I switch this button on.…That's where it led me to believe that the best way to innovate is to have empathy and the best way to develop this empathy is to essentially listen and learn from your own life experience.… If we integrate what we learn in our life and bring that to work, then your ability to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers is going to be that much more tuned.”

On the future of technology and AI: “Predicting technology and futures is one of the more scary things because the general theme is you will overestimate what you get done in the short run and underestimate what you do in the long run.… But the broader theme that we’re building towards is essentially a multi-device, multi-sense world… You can call it machine learning. You can call it AI. But that, I think, is going to be core to pretty much everything that we do going forward.”

On balancing privacy and data: “One of the fundamentals I sort of take from privacy [is] the broader thing of building trust. Trust in Microsoft’s business model so others can trust that what we help them do with data is not going to then allow us to go in and compete with them.… So we are trying to systematically build trust… The principle is that it’s about helping customers to recognize value in their data.”