Office Hours: For Microsoft's head of HR, Office has always been a constant

Lisa Brummel May 19, 2008

Lisa Brummel

Human Resources Senior Vice President Lisa Brummel has served in many different roles in her 18 year tenure at Microsoft, from product manager to Home & Retail Division chief to her current role. Through these different roles, her avid use of Office has been a constant.

Applies to

Microsoft Office

I use each of the core Office applications in my work and always have — be it Excel, Word, Outlook or PowerPoint. I am one of those users who likes playing with all the features and exploring all the menus to find what works best for me. In this column, I will talk about how I use Office's core applications in my daily work and share some of my favorite features.

Staying connected

Staying connected is important to me. That means staying connected to my peers and my team as well as the thousands of employees who make Microsoft such a great company. Getting direct feedback from employees on everything from annual performance review to the Connector Bus is an important part of my role.

Outlook is one of my primary tools for doing this. In fact, it would be fair to say I'm a full-fledged Outlook addict. I access Outlook in every possible way — via OWA (Outlook Web Access), my smart phone and my office PC. And I am typically on e-mail from 6 a.m. to late in the evening.

One thing I like about Outlook is how it helps me act on e-mails quickly. A variety of Outlook features enable me to do this. For instance, as I write this, I have 21 e-mails in my inbox, and that is a lot for me. I can use Outlook rules to categorize incoming e-mail. I color-code mails with me on the To line in blue so I can pick them out right away. This helps me prioritize which mails to respond to first.

I also find Outlook helpful when I need to e-mail hundreds and even thousands of employees to launch a program, such as annual performance review. To do this, I often take advantage of the Delay Delivery feature, which enables me to schedule an e-mail in advance. That way I don't have to be at my desk when it needs to go out. Of course, my work is not over after I send a broad e-mail like this. Often I get dozens of replies, many of them containing valuable feedback. To help me manage the replies, I set rules that send them to a special folder where I can read and respond to the feedback separately from other mail.

Lastly, I have to say a special thank you to Outlook for its spell-check functionality. I am not a world-class speller, but thanks to spell-check, I don't have to be. Recipients of my e-mail can focus on my mails and not my spelling. I like writing in Outlook so much that I will often draft things, such as this column, in Outlook and then paste into its final destination.

My virtual whiteboard

PowerPoint presentations are part of my everyday life, as they are for many of you. Whether I am presenting to a small group or to thousands of employees at a quarterly Town Hall, I use PowerPoint to get my ideas across in a simple, clear way. I particularly like to use PowerPoint when I am presenting numbers and trends because it enables me to display them graphically in an impactful way.

But PowerPoint is important to me above and beyond actual presentations. It serves as my virtual white board. I use it to brainstorm ideas and to help me organize my thoughts in a sequential way that moves from concept to concept. By making me separate my thoughts into discrete and logical concepts, PowerPoint helps me transform a rough idea into a well-thought out business case.

One of my absolute favorite features in PowerPoint 2007 is SmartArt. SmartArt is a great way to visually show a process. I use the pre-made graphics to help conceptualize what I'm trying to say, creating a designer-quality illustration in just a few minutes.

Beyond Outlook and PowerPoint

I have talked a lot about Outlook and PowerPoint because they are the two Office applications I use the most. However, I use other Office applications on a regular basis, including Excel, Word, and Visio. For instance, I like to export data into Excel and often will use Excel tables to organize and present detailed information. I typically use Word for drafting broad communications. And, as Microsoft's HR leader, you can imagine that I spend a fair amount of time with organizational charts. Visio is my favorite tool for detailed org charts.

As you can see, I am an avid user of the Office core applications. Thanks to Office, I can stay connected, present my ideas in a clear way and make the best use of my time.

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