Tom Junod

Ed Fandrey, shown at Microsoft corporate headquarters, honed self-assessment skills as a UAlbany undergraduate. Photo: Cory Parris

Edward Fandrey, B.A.’97

The Power of Self-Assessment 

By Stephen Shoemaker, B.A.’02

With 17 years at tech giant Microsoft, Edward Fandrey, who has risen through the ranks to be the company’s chief of staff for Worldwide Sales and Marketing, admits the company’s corporate values are now part of his DNA. 

“I didn’t really think I’d be at any one company this long,” he says. “But Microsoft keeps re-inventing itself” – a feat made possible by the organization’s willingness to look at itself critically. “You want to celebrate what you’re doing well, but you also want to focus on getting better and having a growth mindset.”

It’s a lesson Fandrey has applied to his own career. But before reporting directly to Microsoft’s chief operating officer, Kevin Turner – who runs the company’s massive $95 billion dollar Sales and Marketing Group – Fandrey got his first taste of self-assessment as a psychology major at UAlbany. In one course, he was asked to contemplate his life goals and was challenged to translate those goals into achievable milestones with measurable results. 

The course, Fandrey recalls, “was part of the many UAlbany core electives you could pick from. I didn’t sign up for it because I was the type that planned out every goal in my life, to be honest, but what I learned in that course about setting and achieving goals changed my life.” 

The assignments spurred him to build qualities that would  figure into his success. Says Fandrey: “I came from a small town; however, I had big dreams. But when I first mapped it out in that class, I realized I wasn’t doing anything in particular that was going to lead to accomplishing those goals.” The Long Island native recognized that if he didn’t take control of his life, he would return home after college and find a “pretty good job, but nothing great. It kind of scared me a bit, in a good way, and it motivated me to really get my act together to accomplish the dreams I had.”

Fandrey buckled down and during his senior year took advantage of the New York City-based recruiters – all of them – who came to the UAlbany campus looking for talent. He laughs as he remembers having as many as 14 interviews per day on campus with potential employers, ranging from insurance firms to manufacturers of road equipment. “My one navy-blue interview suit and the conservative red tie that my dad bought me when I was back for winter break really got a lot of practice.”

As a result, Fandrey got very good at interviewing and building his personal brand. He impressed an on-campus recruiter from Productivity Point International (now Productivity Point Global), a firm dedicated to providing computer instruction to business firms trying to keep pace with the somewhat new world of email and spreadsheets. But it wasn’t Fandrey’s familiarity with the technology and software of the time that impressed them. “They were really impressed by how I was able to present well, simplify and relate to business leaders and sometimes career-changers who were learning the PC for the first time,” he remembers. 

Those skills also impressed Microsoft, one of PPI’s clients, and led to an invitation to join that company three years later as a systems engineer in Manhattan. “It was kind of an overlay role where they wanted someone who knew technology but also was able to listen to customers and understand what Microsoft solution we could sell.” From there, Fandrey moved purely into sales and managed Microsoft’s global account for the Bank of New York Mellon. Later, in sales management, he led a business responsible for more than $300 million dollars in sales of software and consulting services for Microsoft’s largest New York-based clients.

Fandrey’s ability to transform and build high-performing sales teams and his impressive year-over-year results caught the eye of Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, who asked Fandrey to move to Microsoft’s corporate headquarters just outside Seattle and take on his current role as chief of staff in 2013. Fandrey helps Turner set strategy and motivate a worldwide sales and marketing force of nearly 29,000 as Microsoft continues to transform from selling traditional “on-premises” products, such as Windows and Office, in favor of cloud-based software solutions like Office 365 and Azure cloud platform. 

“Part of my role is to devise and execute a strategy for educating and motivating our sellers in 191 countries to speak with customers about the benefits of transitioning to the cloud,” Fandrey explains. The most recent of those transformations have kept Microsoft a top tech firm all these years, and he’s confident the company’s best days are ahead of it. 

Fandrey is just as optimistic about his own career, and the lessons gleaned by hustling from interview to interview on the UAlbany campus nearly 20 years ago still apply. “I learned never to underestimate the power of your personality, or to let anyone tell you that your career is predetermined and you can’t impact its speed and course. It’s meant so much to how I’ve achieved things at work and in life,” observes Fandrey.


Next: Robert Reid, B.A.'90