Microsoft Finance Rotation Program

I have an interview with Microsoft for their Finance Rotational Program coming up and was wondering if anyone else has gone through the process or is currently working there. Can someone explain if this program is "prestigious" and how it compares to programs like GE, J&J, etc. since I cannot tell if it is a leadership program at all. Thanks!

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Comments (29)

Sep 29, 2013 - 4:34pm

Nobody's program really compares in prestige to GE's tbh. The program is going to be great. The company's name is great. Really what matters is where you want to go after it. You won't be able to go for a top MBA immediately after the program, but 4-5 years down the line with great performance and experiences it's definitely possible.

GE really sits above everyone else as far as dev programs go for finance. J&J is pretty close. Microsoft is probably in the top 10-20 programs, but the programs are so similar it really comes down to the company name. To get an idea of how the program itself is, you'll have to talk to people that have gone through it, search LinkedIn to see the career paths of people who went through the rotation program, and look at the different elements of it.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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Sep 29, 2013 - 5:31pm

Same as any other top FDP:

1) move into more-permanent role with the company and keep working your way up the ladder

1a) /while getting PT MBA

2) lateral to another company

3) work for another 2-4 years, then go for FT MBA (if you want to switch industries, switch companies, or your career progress isn't looking great)

Those are the ones I know. The greatest value of an FDP is for people that want to stay with that company. If you're going to a top program like J&Js, your chances at a top b-school are better but still not great. You have to have good experiences, excellent performance, and it helps if you do something substantial on the side. Of course, top MBA admissions is a crapshoot in the first place.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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Sep 29, 2013 - 8:43pm

@D M

Thanks for sharing your comments about Msft and other top FLDP programs.

I am currently considering career paths through a finance rotational programs or audit at a Big 4. I know that going through a rotational program is probably a much better option in terms of MBA prospects and moving up the corporate ladder, but I am worried about being stuck in technology if I start out at a tech company. Should I go through a finance rotational program at a tech company if I am not that interested in technology, even if it does carry the name and everything? FYI, it's not that I don't know or like tech, but rather that it isn't my first option and can't see myself doing it forever.

By the way, what are the other top FLDP programs. Do you mind sharing this information too?

Best Response
Sep 29, 2013 - 9:19pm

I should caveat this is all based on research/talking to people, I don't have any experience working as an FDP/in corpfin.

There's no ranking on top FDP-type programs. Pretty much GE is known as the top, J&J is usually close behind (not sure why tbh - I don't particularly like the 2-year, 2-rotation structure, much prefer the 2-year 4-rotation). After that it seems to come down to the company name. Microsoft has a great brand, so that's something great to put on your resume.

You also have to feel this out by talking to FDPs/people. Some of the companies have finance development programs, but don't put much focus on them (generally the banks like MS/Barclay's - they focus more on their bankers. Though that's not to say there's no value in the program). Others put a shitload of focus on them (see: GE, UTC, Dell).

As far as exit ops, that's a crapshoot. If you have an option to do audit at Big 4, that might be a better route for getting into the industry you want. The major value behind an FDP is within the company (building an internal corporate network for yourself). It usually puts you on an accelerated path within that company. It's really hard for me to answer this, though.

If you're planning on going to a top MBA program, it might be worthwhile to do the FDP. The thing is, you're going to have to work for likely 5 years before getting your MBA. Some can do it in 4, but that's tough. You have to perform exceptionally well over the course of the 4 years, too. You can't check out at any point or you're screwing yourself. I have no idea what the path from Big 4 to MBA looks like, so again not sure what to tell ya.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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Sep 30, 2013 - 8:47am

These exit opportunities are seemingly solid. Speaking of moving up the corporate ladder (accelerated path), do you think you can post the average length of each position (Analyst - Director) in the terms of year and performance after FLDP? If you're not 100% certain, you can still make an estimated information at your best. Base salary can be included if you have the information, no matter what if it's outdated or not.
I've been told that FP&A is often boring at the junior level, so how do you get an opportunity to do something "more substantial" on the side? Corporate development projects? Upper level FP&A work?

Are your skills transferable when switching to technology companies (think Google, Oracle, etc) after two years of FLDP at J&J?

Out of curiosity, where/what do you work?

Appreciate your time.

Nov 3, 2013 - 1:55pm

D M:
Some of the companies have finance development programs, but don't put much focus on them (generally the banks like MS/Barclay's - they focus more on their bankers. Though that's not to say there's no value in the program).

Curious as to what you mean by this?
Are you saying that the upper level finance positions at the company are filled by former investment bankers?

Or that they don't train the finance employees?

Array
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Nov 3, 2013 - 2:09pm

No, what I meant by this is, well let's take Morgan Stanley for example. If you get into their Finance Analyst program (the middle office one doing corpfin), you're not on an accelerated track to the top like other finance development programs would have.

At most companies an FDP is an accelerated program. They'll accept normal staff accountants and financial analysts, and then they'll have their FDP participants who are fast-tracked (depending on performance, of course). At Morgan Stanley ALL of their corporate finance personnel go through the program, so it's not a fast track, it's just what you do (excepting people who lateral in, of course).

Really, that was a bad way to phrase it. If you're talking C-suite officers, many of them are coming from investment banking. If you're talking at the middle management/mid-upper level management in internal corpfin, you will definitely see guys who started in corpfin there. But once you get to the CFO slots, well look at the CFOs for the BBs. Many of them spent time in banking before moving to CFO.

This is also highly dependent on the company. A bank like Wells Fargo or Bank of America is going to be much different than your Goldman Sachs/Morgan Stanleys. Please note that I'm saying this as someone who's done a decent amount of research on the subject, but I'm not an expert. I don't have first-hand knowledge here.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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Nov 3, 2013 - 2:54pm

D M:

No, what I meant by this is, well let's take Morgan Stanley for example. If you get into their Finance Analyst program (the middle office one doing corpfin), you're not on an accelerated track to the top like other finance development programs would have.

At most companies an FDP is an accelerated program. They'll accept normal staff accountants and financial analysts, and then they'll have their FDP participants who are fast-tracked (depending on performance, of course). At Morgan Stanley ALL of their corporate finance personnel go through the program, so it's not a fast track, it's just what you do (excepting people who lateral in, of course).

Really, that was a bad way to phrase it. If you're talking C-suite officers, many of them are coming from investment banking. If you're talking at the middle management/mid-upper level management in internal corpfin, you will definitely see guys who started in corpfin there. But once you get to the CFO slots, well look at the CFOs for the BBs. Many of them spent time in banking before moving to CFO.

This is also highly dependent on the company. A bank like Wells Fargo or Bank of America is going to be much different than your Goldman Sachs/Morgan Stanleys. Please note that I'm saying this as someone who's done a decent amount of research on the subject, but I'm not an expert. I don't have first-hand knowledge here.

So then you're saying GE hires entry level finance analysts outside of the FMP program?
You specifically mention Barclays as a company that doesn't focus on its finance leadership program.
You're saying that they don't hire entry level finance/accountants outside of their leadership program.

Barclays' CFO also was a banker before they were CFO and definitely didn't come up through the controller's division?

Array
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Nov 3, 2013 - 3:40pm

Your questions are a little confusing. I'm going to try and figure out what they are and then answer those questions:

1) Does GE hire FAs outside of the FMP program?
--I'm not sure about GE, though I have not seen a "normal" entry-level FA position for the company. This doesn't necessarily mean it does not happen, I just haven't seen it. GE is somewhat unique, though in that they put a huge emphasis on their FMP.

2) Does Barclays focus on its middle office, early career Finance Program?
--From what I understand, not really. And when I say not really, I mean they will train you to do the job and give you a mentor which may or may not be helpful. Their program is nothing special compared to, say, GE, J&J, Microsoft, Dell, etc.

3) Was Barclays' CFO a banker and did he not come up through the controller's division?
--No, Lucas came from PwC.

The point I was trying to make is that the investment banks generally HAVE FDPs/FLDPs, but they're really only a standard, entry-level training program for financial analysts.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
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Sep 30, 2013 - 11:55am

i went from big 4 to corp fin at disney. the rate at which you get promoted will be dependent on your performance, the company's process, and the company's overall business performance. if your performance is good, your best hope is to spend 2-3 years at each level and move up to the next spot. if the company is doing really well and organically creating new finance/accounting roles, you will have a shot at moving up the ladder faster and ultimately reaching higher levels. you could be an all-star performer, but if the company isn't growing rapidly and people above you aren't quitting, then guess what, you aren't getting promoted. one other note regarding performance, in the bigger, well recognized f500 companies, you will find that pretty much everyone is really solid, smart, and capable of advancing. it's going to be difficult to prove through your performance that you should be promoted over someone who has more years of work experience than you. that's why the promotion process in corp fin often becomes a waiting game. how long have you been there? is there an opening for you? etc.

if you join a company through their fldp program, you will have an advantage in the promotion department early on, but after you make senior, this advantage will become less and less relative to your peers who are non-fldp.

personally, it can be a bit frustrating working in corporate finance. if you are the type who really wants to get ahead, is more than willing to work long hours, and will do whatever it takes to improve and advance, the culture of corporate finance might not be for you. you trade those big upsides and fast promotion schedules, for significantly reduced risk. the upside is that your skills are highly transferable, even to different industries, and your job security is pretty much as high as it can get in this economy. the one big downside is that the climb up the ladder is going to be rather slow and boring at times. the pay is good, but you won't be living large and buying a vacation house until you are 12-15 years in, if not 15-20 years.

Nov 3, 2013 - 8:12am

This is the path most of the FLDP's at my company take. Keep in mind that it gets more competitive the higher up you get since there are fewer roles with more candidates, and people often make lateral moves within each level. Obviously very few make it to the top since the company only has one CFO; most make it to the group controller / finance director level or move on to another company.

FLDP 3 yrs
Senior Analyst / Sr Accountant 2-3 yrs
Lead Analyst / Accounting Manager 2-3 yrs
Plant Controller 2-3 yrs
Division Controller 2-3 yrs
Finance Director 2-3 yrs
Group Controller 2-3 yrs
VP of Finance 2-3 yrs
Senior VP / Senior Manager 2-3 yrs
CFO

Nov 3, 2013 - 1:08pm

Damn, that's a pretty steady path. At one point would you say people stop getting regularly promoted after 2-3 years?

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Nov 3, 2013 - 1:48pm

The people who are identified as the company's top talent switch jobs every 2-3 years on average, typically closer to the 2 year mark. The company encourages and to an extent actually directs and takes a top down approach on these promotions. In each of my last 2 jobs with the company, I was approached after 2 years in the role and encouraged to apply for an opening. The interview was essentially a formality and in a lot of cases the company has a plan for an employee's next 2-3 jobs if it is a person they want to be in management.

Again, it does get complicated as you rise higher in the company since there are fewer positions at those levels and increased competition. There could be upwards of around 75 plant controller jobs in the US, but only around a third of that many division controller roles and declining from there as you move up. But in all honesty, it's not uncommon to see people hit the plant controller level by age 30 and and at that level you're pulling in a low six figure base plus 15-20% bonus. As long as the person is smart, has decent people skills, and has a reputation for getting results, you will typically see that person continue to climb the ladder every couple of years.

One thing to note is that you'll commonly see people start taking more lateral roles after they reach a certain level. Someone may go from the controller of a small plant to a big plant or move from the division controller of one business unit to another. Others may decide to transfer into M&A, Treasury, or corporate finance roles also. People may decide to settle in to a role at some point or may leave the company for a better opportunity, but it's really up to the individual and depends on their skills.

Nov 3, 2013 - 2:10pm

Sure thing, that sounds a lot like what I'd expect. Thanks for the info man! SBs for those posts

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Nov 3, 2013 - 4:56pm

Industry84:

The people who are identified as the company's top talent switch jobs every 2-3 years on average, typically closer to the 2 year mark. The company encourages and to an extent actually directs and takes a top down approach on these promotions. In each of my last 2 jobs with the company, I was approached after 2 years in the role and encouraged to apply for an opening. The interview was essentially a formality and in a lot of cases the company has a plan for an employee's next 2-3 jobs if it is a person they want to be in management.

Again, it does get complicated as you rise higher in the company since there are fewer positions at those levels and increased competition. There could be upwards of around 75 plant controller jobs in the US, but only around a third of that many division controller roles and declining from there as you move up. But in all honesty, it's not uncommon to see people hit the plant controller level by age 30 and and at that level you're pulling in a low six figure base plus 15-20% bonus. As long as the person is smart, has decent people skills, and has a reputation for getting results, you will typically see that person continue to climb the ladder every couple of years.

One thing to note is that you'll commonly see people start taking more lateral roles after they reach a certain level. Someone may go from the controller of a small plant to a big plant or move from the division controller of one business unit to another. Others may decide to transfer into M&A, Treasury, or corporate finance roles also. People may decide to settle in to a role at some point or may leave the company for a better opportunity, but it's really up to the individual and depends on their skills.

75 plant controllers? Where the heck do you work? haha. PM me if you want. I'm working in mfg too, and we have less than 10 plants which means we have less than 10 plant controllers. Does your company have assistant controllers are well?

In my experience, most people plateau at manager. Only top performers are going to become Controllers, Directors, etc. If you stay at a company long enough you are bound to make manager, but anything above that isn't a given. My company is consistent with the new job every 2 years for high performers.

Nov 4, 2013 - 7:10pm

GoIllini:

Industry84:

The people who are identified as the company's top talent switch jobs every 2-3 years on average, typically closer to the 2 year mark. The company encourages and to an extent actually directs and takes a top down approach on these promotions. In each of my last 2 jobs with the company, I was approached after 2 years in the role and encouraged to apply for an opening. The interview was essentially a formality and in a lot of cases the company has a plan for an employee's next 2-3 jobs if it is a person they want to be in management.

Again, it does get complicated as you rise higher in the company since there are fewer positions at those levels and increased competition. There could be upwards of around 75 plant controller jobs in the US, but only around a third of that many division controller roles and declining from there as you move up. But in all honesty, it's not uncommon to see people hit the plant controller level by age 30 and and at that level you're pulling in a low six figure base plus 15-20% bonus. As long as the person is smart, has decent people skills, and has a reputation for getting results, you will typically see that person continue to climb the ladder every couple of years.

One thing to note is that you'll commonly see people start taking more lateral roles after they reach a certain level. Someone may go from the controller of a small plant to a big plant or move from the division controller of one business unit to another. Others may decide to transfer into M&A, Treasury, or corporate finance roles also. People may decide to settle in to a role at some point or may leave the company for a better opportunity, but it's really up to the individual and depends on their skills.

75 plant controllers? Where the heck do you work? haha. PM me if you want. I'm working in mfg too, and we have less than 10 plants which means we have less than 10 plant controllers. Does your company have assistant controllers are well?

In my experience, most people plateau at manager. Only top performers are going to become Controllers, Directors, etc. If you stay at a company long enough you are bound to make manager, but anything above that isn't a given. My company is consistent with the new job every 2 years for high performers.

It is a good sized F200, $20b+ in revenue. The FLDP's and young talent hired at the company are expected to make plant controller at a minimum and they are typically promoted every 2 years. That's not to say that this is the case for every employee hired, as there are many who have been in roles for a number of years and aren't on any kind of "fast track". The company has a very organized and structured talent development process, and if they select you to be in that pipeline you are basically going to be promoted every couple years unless you do something very stupid.

No assistant controllers to my knowledge, but feel free to PM me as well. Could be interesting to hear about your company and I'll be open on sharing more through PM.

Nov 5, 2013 - 3:49pm

For non-target schools, I believe there is an initial phone screening, and if you pass that Microsoft will fly you to Redmond for a super day. Usually between 3 and 5 interviews depending on full time or internships.

The program itself consists of four six - month rotations in different types of finance. Your are guaranteed international travel in your first year, and have an opportunity to apply for full 6-month international rotation. The rotations are functionally aligned with different types of finance skills, and you're placed in different engineering/corporate functions for each rotation.

The program itself is extremely highly supported by senior leadership. The CFO will regularly mention the program, and senior leadership actively seek out current rotation analysts and graduated analysts.

Both analysts and interns will have an opportunity to work with senior leadership with some rotations have more 'visibility' than others . I've heard of both interns and full time analysts working on materials that are reviewed by the CEO, CFO, board of directors, and other senior executives.

Happy to answer questions in a way that (ideally) won't betray my identity. :)

Nov 5, 2013 - 3:52pm

There is no standard format for corporate emails - there are simply too many employees/vendors at the company. It would be practically impossible to guess the email alias of someone who isn't brand new. I think recently new employees have been assigned 3 letters from their first name and 3 from their last. (i.e. Mister Giggles => [email protected])

Nov 5, 2013 - 3:53pm

Microsoft finance interview (Originally Posted: 10/12/2009)

got a Microsoft FT finance interview coming up (first round) and was wondering if any of you had any idea what its like. Apparently it's 45 mins and they say it could be a mix of behavioral and case.

Thanks

Nov 5, 2013 - 3:55pm

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