Guest Columns

Technology Empowers Careers, Innovation, and Collaboration

Technology Empowers Careers, Innovation, and Collaboration

Sandi Piatz

Site Leader, Microsoft

Residing along Interstate 29 on the south side of Fargo is Microsoft’s second largest field campus. To some this comes as a surprise, but not to those who know the technology hub the Fargo-Moorhead region has become. Microsoft’s roots in the area date back to 1983 when North Dakota native and current North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum invested in a small company called Great Plains Software. He later became CEO and grew the company to 2,000 employees globally. Great Plains Software went public in 1997 and was then sold to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001. This gave Microsoft its first office in Fargo. Today, Microsoft’s campus in Fargo is one of the top 15 employers in the region with about 1,700 team members.


Microsoft is just one of many software technology firms that has made its home in Fargo-Moorhead. The access to talent from major universities, support from the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and the state, as well as the local entrepreneurial spirit has fostered an incubator for technology companies in the region that offer career opportunities, innovation and collaboration.


There is an ethos of gratitude, customer service, hard work ethic, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in the Fargo-Moorhead area talent. Add in the great partnerships with the many universities in the region, and you find the quality of talent and strong collaboration that has allowed the technology industry and companies like Microsoft to prosper. Even with the low unemployment rate in Fargo-Moorhead, Microsoft continues to find and recruit strong talent.


Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. It is with great talent that we can achieve this mission. On the Fargo campus, Microsoft has experts in a variety of areas such as customer service and support, software engineering, sales, marketing and accounting resources. We are a global company, united by a single mission of working together to bring the best of Microsoft to our customers, which is made possible in part by our dedicated Fargo-based team.


At Microsoft, we value diverse differences and career growth opportunities. We believe career and professional development is a partnership between our team members and managers, which is reinforced by many different resources. Through career development plans, continuous career connects, coaching, training, tuition reimbursement programs, leadership development opportunities and many other means, our team members are empowered to grow their careers and professional development at Microsoft. While living in Fargo and working for Microsoft, your career will never stand still.


Great talent is essential to fueling innovation. It drives curiosity, challenges us to look at problems from another perspective, ask questions and think differently. Great talent has helped Microsoft innovate while also fueling entrepreneurism in the Fargo-Moorhead area.


The F-M area has seen new technology innovation in unmanned aerial space, software development startups, incubation centers, meet-ups, technology consulting firms and Software as a Service (SaaS) technology companies, which all continue to grow and prosper. Conferences and educational events continue to support innovation and the industry with the State of Technology, Drone Focus, TedXFargo and One Million Cups.


These events and community collaboration create partnerships that Microsoft believes are essential to driving change in the world. Microsoft’s Employee Giving Program also provides a way for our corporation to partner with and support local and national nonprofits performing invaluable work to support our community every day. By matching every employee’s monetary gift up to a set amount and their volunteer hours of service toward approved 501c3 organizations, Microsoft’s Employee Giving Program supports those nonprofits and the passions and interests of our employees.


Microsoft has specifically partnered with many nonprofits and local community groups to support STEM events in the community to continue expanding this education for youth including Junior Achievement, Educators in Industry, many robotics clubs and MarketPlace for Kids. Microsoft also provides a technology camp for young women called DigiGirlz as well as TEALs – a partnership to provide Computer Science advanced placement courses in high schools.


Microsoft is just one of many organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area investing in STEM education and give-back programs. In fact, the F-M community has a strong reputation for supporting its nonprofits and building a solid foundation for STEM education within our school systems. As Great Plains Software was a strong community collaborator, Microsoft has continued to stand true to this heritage as we continue to invest and grow in the Fargo campus. Microsoft, along with many other organizations, believes in building the foundation for our future in this area.

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