Peggy Johnson is the executive clamp boss for
business expansion at Microsoft.
Before Microsoft, she spent 25 years at Qualcomm, on
the technical side as an operative and on the business
As “deal-maker-in-chief,” Peggy Johnson gets paid millions to
help make Microsoft billions.
Her tangible pretension is executive clamp boss for business
development, and she’s helped lead over 40 investments with
Microsoft Ventures. One understanding was the merger of LinkedIn —
for $26 billion.
“It takes an army for sure,” Johnson pronounced on Business Insider’s
podcast, “Success! How we Did It,” about making those investments.
“Clearly, one of that distance needs to be assessed fully, and we
have illusory teams opposite the company who are so good at that
She assimilated the company 3 years ago after spending 25 years at
the telecommunications company Qualcomm. Microsoft CEO Satya
Nadella privately called her on a Saturday to get her on board.
Business Insider US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell recently
held up with Johnson at the World Economic Forum, in Davos,
Switzerland. On this partial of “Success, How we Did It,” Johnson
talks about making it to Microsoft and how her group decides which
companies to deposit in or acquire.
Listen to the full episode:
Subscribe to “Success! How we Did
Apple Podcasts, Google Play,
or your favorite app. Check out prior episodes with:
Entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John
Barstool Sports CEO Erica Nardini
Walmart eCommerce CEO Marc Lore
BBG Ventures President Susan Lyne
Following is a transcript, which has been edited for
To know Peggy Johnson and the qualities that have made
her successful, you have to know about her family. She was the
14th of 15 kids. As a child she was a still listener who learned
to review her siblings’ facial expressions from the kitchen
countertop (with so many people, her chair wouldn’t fit around
the family table). Eventually Johnson followed some of her
brothers and sisters to San Diego State University, where she
started study business, even yet she really desired math and
science. It was there that a possibility confront changed her life’s
Peggy Johnson: My relatives had two rules: You had
to go to college, and you had to compensate for it yourself. So we all
did. we was delivering mail and happened to broach mail to the
engineering dialect one day. Two ladies at the finish of this
prolonged corridor with linoleum floors could hear me coming, and they
were super vehement to see me — like some-more vehement than they
should’ve been just given we was delivering mail.
It was given they suspicion we was there to ask about engineering.
And they were disappointed. They said, “We suspicion you wanted to
know something about the School of Engineering.” we said, “Nope —
just delivering the mail.” They said, “Well, do you know anything
about engineering?,” and we said, “You know, positively nothing.”
No one had ever really talked to me about engineering, and so
they asked me the same question, “Do you like math and science?”
we said, “I adore it.” They just started to work on me, and after
15 to 20 mins we felt, like, “You know, this competence be something
we wish to do.”
The next day we changed my major to engineering — yeah, to
Alyson Shontell: Wow.
Johnson: we credit those two ladies. They just,
you know, worked on me and changed my mind.
Shontell: They changed your life.
Johnson: My life. The whole arena of my
life really changed in that conversation.
Shontell: So you wound up getting a pursuit at GE
after this good electrical-engineering major. And you spent a
couple years there.
Johnson: Yeah, we started as an novice while I
was still at school, and again, San Diego State put me on a great
march given they had a series of good internship
opportunities, and this area of General Electric was in their
military wiring division. we worked on anti-submarine warfare
for surface ships. So it sounds very interesting, I’m sure. You
wish to know some-more about that, but we can’t contend anything given I
had a clearance.
But it was a pursuit we competence still be in currently if not for it seemed
like it was going to pierce to Syracuse, New York, and of march I
was in San Diego, California, but we didn’t wish to move, and
well, “I’ve got to demeanour for a pursuit here in San Diego,” and ended
up observant no to GE.
Johnson spent 25 years operative her way up the ladder
Shontell: Is that when you went to Qualcomm?
Johnson: Yes, and we just answered an ad in the
newspaper, which they don’t do anymore. You substantially never even
listened of that, but yes, that’s how you used to get jobs, look
by the newspaper.
Shontell: In the classifieds.
Johnson: The classifieds, and there it was. It
was this new company, and they were hiring, and my husband had
had an internship at the prototype to Qualcomm, called
Linkabit. He said, “You know, Irwin Jacobs is an extraordinary man.” He
had owned and been in Linkabit, and he said, “I don’t know what
Qualcomm does, but we consider you should — ”
Shontell: He’s the founder of Qualcomm?
Johnson: Irwin Jacobs is, yeah. And so prodded
by my husband, who was at that time posterior his master’s degree,
and we were married, and one of us indispensable to work, and that was
me. So we went in, had an interview. Hardest speak of my life,
and finished up getting the job, and stayed there for 25 years.
Shontell: Yeah, it’s incredible. But while you
had a prolonged career there, at first it seemed as if you were
soft-spoken and it was tough to kind of get your indicate opposite in a
shrill room with those guys.
Johnson: It was.
And I’m soft-spoken substantially going back to the family experience.
Number 14 out of 15 wasn’t an enviable position to be in. You
were just one of so many voices at the table, and we was one who
had to lay at the side table. So we was at the kids’ list until I
was, like, 24 years old.
So we was some-more of a listener, and we was still mostly given I
couldn’t ever really mangle in to that chaos at the big table. But
we was a listener and we would watch people, and we would try to
know their mood. Those skills were what we brought into my
pursuit at Qualcomm, and maybe not good skills, given when we got
to Qualcomm the expectancy really at that time was, “You need to
pronounce up more. You need to be some-more noisy in meetings. We want
to hear from you more.” Whenever we did that, whenever we tried to
be what we wasn’t, it didn’t really spin out very well, and I
didn’t feel very authentic, and in fact people would kind of look
at me — “Why is she being so noisy and noisy here?
That’s not like her.” And it wasn’t. It wasn’t my authentic self.
So flattering much we had decided, “I consider we have to leave the
industry, the company. I’m just not matched for this.” My manager
at the time said, “No, we are going to figure this out. You’re
going to stay right where you are,” and really we credit him for
making a lot of changes in the HR dialect at the time because
we were ranked by certain attributes that we didn’t have. So I
remember being noted off for not being noisy and assertive
in meetings, and he said, “We are going to change this, and we
are going to make certain we have a broader set of qualities that
we’re looking for.” Things like teamwork and being collaborative,
and he really pushed. It was early, early days, and things
changed from that indicate on. Once we was means to be my more
authentic self we felt like that’s when my career really took off.
we was just my own voice.
Shontell: Yes, so he arrange of gave you permission
to be yourself and helped you find your own care style.
Johnson: He did, yes. we always credit him for
that given we competence have just left like, we think, a lot of women
did at the time. They just didn’t feel gentle and it didn’t
feel like a very thorough environment, and he helped change
Shontell: So you go on to stay for many, many
some-more years at Qualcomm — 25 years.
Shontell: What finished you so dedicated to that one
Johnson: Right, yes. So first of all, Qualcomm’s
a good company, and they gave me the event to really
flower in a series of roles. So we was an operative to start with,
and we was in the engineering dialect for several years. Then I
had been going out on business trips given we indispensable to explain
the product to the attention we were selling into, and on one of
the flights home the ubiquitous manager happens to be sitting next
to me and he said, “I don’t understand. Why don’t you just come
over to the business side? You really seem to adore doing that,
and we like the way you translate the technical universe into the
business world. we consider you could be good matched for that.”
And we thought, “Well, conclude you very much but no, conclude you. I’m
an engineer.” we identified with being an engineer, and we remember
meditative engineering at that time at Qualcomm was in one
building, and all the business people were in the other building,
and we finished fun of them all the time given they dressed up, and
we got to wear the Qualcomm shirts and jeans. We suspicion we
didn’t wish to have anything to do with that world, but it
started to import on me, and substantially 4 or 5 weeks went by,
and we remember sitting at the holiday party, and all of remarkable I
had one of those aha moments, and it was:” “You need to do this.
You need to make that leap.” Because while we favourite what we did, I
desired being in front of the customer. So we did, and we changed over
into program management, which is arrange of a technical and
business role, and that was really the start of my business
career at Qualcomm.
Shontell: So you switched from engineering to
the business-development side, and that’s when things really took
Johnson: Yeah, and we consider partial of it was the
time. It was early days of the mobile phones. We were making the
digital customary that was eventually embedded into mobile phones
in the US, and so all was sparkling and new. We were
forging new paths, and it was such a good time to be at the
start of a business. None of us had any suspicion what it would turn
into. we don’t consider any of us at that time envisioned that
everybody would be carrying cellphones. we mean, we thought,
“That’ll be a good business. Maybe a few million of those will
sell.” So it was fun to be there at the start of that, but we had
good managers along the way, and any time we wanted to do
something opposite they really upheld me.
Shontell: And switching careers isn’t easy. I
mean, it’s a big risk.
Johnson: Exactly. It is, and you’re not quite
sure, and if it doesn’t work out, can we go back? Once we switched
over we had to learn a lot. Clearly we didn’t have a business
degree, and a lot of it was on-the-job learning, but we had some
good mentors and folks who leaned in and helped me. And we just
desired every shawl we wore after that point, until we changed on to
Microsoft from Qualcomm.
How Johnson motionless to make the jump and start a new career at
Shontell: It sounds like you had a good setup.
You determined yourself by the ranks, had good mentorship.
So Microsoft calls. You’d been rejecting other calls before, kind
of just unresolved up the phone on recruiters. What was it about
Johnson: Well, we wouldn’t call them back. I
wouldn’t hang up on them.
Shontell: OK: You were deferential about it.
Johnson: That’s it. But it was one of those
engaging times. we hadn’t ever called any back because
all was good at Qualcomm. we desired it, and also we was
vital in San Diego, my family was there. Everything was
fantastic, but at the time of the attention Satya had just taken
over, Satya Nadella, as CEO of Microsoft. We did business with
Microsoft. We sole them chips, and so we know, of course, of
Microsoft. We didn’t really know Satya, and one of the first
things he did is he motionless to put Office on IOS and Android
phones, and that blew us away. we mean, substantially not just us in
Qualcomm, but the industry.
That was utterly a confidant move, and so when we got the call from
Microsoft they said, “Well, it’s a pursuit stating to Satya. You’d
be using business development.” we thought, “I just wish to call
back to know what it’s about. The company seems to be in
this big transition, and we just wish to learn a little bit
basically.” But of march was never going to go anywhere. we lived
in San Diego there wasn’t any doubt that we was going anywhere.
When we called back we was just drawn in, and eventually we had a
review with Satya.
Shontell: He called you on a Saturday.
Johnson: He did, yeah. He did, and so we was
chatting with him, and again it was kind of like another aha
moment. He was articulate about his universe perspective of a mobile-first,
cloud-first world, and all of a remarkable it just connected with me
given apparently I’d been vital in a mobile-first world, a
wireless world. That was what we knew inside and out. we felt very
gentle in that world. Then when information left the phone it went
off to that thing called the cloud and Qualcomm didn’t have much
to do with that. As he was articulate about this suspicion of ambient
computing and having comprehension everywhere it just clicked with
me that this is something we need to know some-more about, and we wanted
to know some-more about Satya’s vision, and eventually took a
outing to Seattle.
we remember getting on the craft in San Diego feeling like, “I
wish nobody sees me given I’ve never finished this before. I’m
gonna go revisit another company for a pursuit possibly.” And had a
possibility to meet the rest of the government team, and then to sit
down with Satya. His prophesy to commission every person and
classification on the planet, to grasp more, it just struck me,
and it resonated with me, and we finished up observant yes, making the
pierce with my family. We had only one child at home at that time,
and so we changed up to Seattle, where we live today.
Shontell: He’s finished implausible things with
Johnson: He has, absolutely.
Shontell: What’s he like to work with?
Johnson: Very empathetic. He’s a listener. He’s
a learner. Curious. We’re allowed to fail, learn from it, but
it’s super important. He’s really changed the company at its
core, and we are following a expansion mindset, which he introduced
to the company, and we feel like whenever we arrange of get off path
a little bit, we come back to the expansion mindset. We’ll say, “Are
we exhibiting a expansion mindset here?” You know? It’s easy to say
no. Any suspicion you can have 10 nos. It’s a lot harder to contend yes.
So the expansion mindset allows us to pull boarders a little bit,
and to contend approbation more, try things out, destroy fast. we trust it’s
changed the core of the company, and we hear that from others
outside, which is very gratifying. But what’s so sparkling is that
the campus is energized, and it’s just been a wild, crazy, fun
float for the last 3 years.
What it takes to be Microsoft’s deal-maker-in-chief
Shontell: So it’s been 3 years. You’ve done
a lot. One thing that stands out: You worked with a big group on
the LinkedIn deal. Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26
Johnson: Yeah: $26 billion.
Shontell: So how does a $26 billion understanding happen?
How prolonged did it take? What happens behind the scenes? Because
many of us don’t get to that level.
Johnson: It takes an army, for sure. we mean, I
would contend the expansion of an merger that big has to go
by many, many gates, and it starts with arrange of
conversations. It starts with a strategy. “Are we the better
owners?” Looking at it from all opposite angles.
Clearly, one of that distance needs to be assessed fully, and we have
illusory teams opposite the company who are so good at that
assessment. Also, the engagement, once we motionless to make the
decision to go forward, the rendezvous with the company, the
formation part, which is super important. You can make all of
the good vital assessments brazen of time, but if you can’t
confederate good after, you’ve lost a lot of money. The teams at
Microsoft are just first category at that.
Shontell: So is it a 10-month process? Faster?
Johnson: we can’t remember. There were
conversations for a prolonged duration of time, but then once we arrange of
pulled the trigger, we wish to contend — we don’t know — maybe it was
somewhere between 6 and 12 months. we can’t utterly remember from
the time of the first conversations until we announced that we
were going to ensue with an acquisition.
Shontell: When we saw the headline, and we were
essay it on Business Insider, it was like, “Oh, whoa. This is a
outrageous deal.” It went totally under the radar. You didn’t get
Johnson: Another thing that we consider we did a
very good pursuit on … given apparently a group that distance inside
the company did a very good pursuit of gripping things still on both
sides. Including the transactional folks in between. So all of
that had rolled out very, very well. It was arrange of the example
of how you’d like to do an acquisition.
Shontell: I’m certain you contend no, of course, much
some-more than you contend yes. One that stands out is Slack, we think, was
an event to buy, and we consider Microsoft eventually passed,
along with some others. On a understanding like that, how do you import it?
Johnson: Well, but commenting specifically
on Slack, we would contend for any merger we ask that question,
“Are we the better owners? Does it perform a vital opening that
we have?” Because many times a partnership is even better
oftentimes given to be an owners you have to be all in, but if a
partnership can work to fill a gap, we’ll go that route.
Sometimes we’ll make an investment in a company given they’re
on a quicker trail to stuffing a gap, but they may need a little
help in the form of resources to get there. Then finally if the
right answer is, “Yes, we are the better owners,” we’ll go the
full way and go brazen with an acquisition.
So we do arrange of an comment that way, and we try to be very,
very disciplined, and hang to the core ambitions, and not go too
distant off of that, given that’s where you get into trouble. So we
speak ourselves in and out of things often.
Johnson explains how to be a good leader
Shontell: You’ve pronounced that prioritization is a
ability that you schooled really early on. Do you have tips? How do
you figure out, in a pursuit as outrageous as yours — I’m certain you have a
million opposite things that you could be doing — how do you
focus, and how do you 0 in on the right things?
Johnson: Well, we consider we schooled it from my mom,
who is substantially the program-manager-in-chief to run a residence like
that. Because one of the things she used to contend is, “We may have
15 kids, but we’re not gonna be a disorderly house. When people come
in the residence we don’t wish them to say, ‘Oh yeah, this is what I
suspicion a residence with 15 kids would demeanour like.'” So she was very
disciplined. She finished lists — and we adore lists — and checking
things off the list always feels good.
So we schooled arrange of that prioritization from my mom, and that
it’s not vicious to get all on the list finished but really
to make certain that you set out in the morning to get the top ones
done. That’s what your concentration should be. You shouldn’t be stressed
that you didn’t get to the bottom of the list. She was very good
Shontell: Another ability of yours is you’re
great, from what I’ve listened your coworkers say, you’re good at
building these relations that last a prolonged time. Especially in
that business — it’s so vicious to have that. How do you do
that? What are your tips for building long-lasting work and
ubiquitous life relationships?
Johnson: we consider it goes back to that family
list when we was the listener in the room, and that is something
that is substantially a little bit underrated, but for me has been, I
feel like, the core of my care abilities is the ability to
listen, and to deeply listen, and to know and put myself in
the other person’s shoes. Once you do that you can solve whatever
problem there is on the list either it’s a business problem or
a technical problem, we think, some-more fast having that ability to
put yourself on the other side.
Shontell: Then we have a kind of some-more general
landscape question. we consider someone asked you once what you
suspicion the biggest issue women face in the workforce is, and you
pronounced harassment. Certainly we’ve seen a lot of stories about that
this year, Harvey Weinstein on up. What do you consider we can do
better? How do you consider we can fix it? What have you seen that
creates you contend that?
Johnson: Well, we just feel like you should be
means to have a deferential work environment, given if you do
you’ll be your best self. You’ll bring your best self to work,
and over the years there was always that murmur at work when
there was people you avoided given you didn’t wish a comment
about your dress or something, and we consider about all of the
cycles that my friends and we would share, you know, “Don’t go by
that person’s office. Go the prolonged way around.” Those cycles could
have been put to a lot better use. So there’s kind of a business
reason to stop this, and there’s apparently all of the other
reasons that we’ve been articulate about given the #MeToo movement
started, but there’s also a simple business reason. We could be so
much some-more prolific if we didn’t have to spend all those cycles
arrange of fending off that infrequently pointed harassment, but it sort
of exists there, and if we can together say, “Let’s just have an
inclusive, deferential sourroundings at work,” and learn the boys
and the girls, we consider we’ll be distant some-more productive. We’ll be our
best selves. We’ll bring the best selves to work given we’ll
know we’ll be in a gentle environment.
Shontell: You’ve had an implausible career, many
years brazen of it still, but the indicate that you’ve gotten to is
just really inspiring. If you’re looking back or you’re giving
someone recommendation who’s just starting their career, what do you wish
you had famous then, and what would you advise someone who wants
to arise to the top like you have?
Johnson: Well, we consider the best recommendation we ever
got was just to be myself, and we consider once we staid into who I
am, I’m quiet, I’m rather introverted, and motionless that’s OK,
it’s OK to be who we am. Then my career took off. So for someone
starting we would say, “Be who you are. If you are noisy and
noisy that’s fine, too. Just welcome who you are given we
really need that farrago of suspicion at work. We don’t need a
garland of Peggy Johnsons of any one type. We really need the sort
of the brew and the mix of all the opposite opinions and
voices.” That we consider would be good recommendation for someone just
stepping into their career.
Shontell: Thank you so much, Peggy. It’s really
Johnson: Thank you, Alyson. Thanks for having
me. we conclude it.