The Record - Issue 21: Summer 2021

34 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om I NT E R V I EW You joined Microsoft about 18 months ago – what first brought you to the company and what were your main aspirations for the role of corporate vice president of public sector at that time? I’ve always been interested in the intersection of public policy and international relations, a path which led me to tech. I have drawn great inspi- ration from the power of digital to drive impact across the public sector, in seeing how tech- nology can make the world a better place and enhance public services for every community. I was honoured to join Microsoft to help change agents with big, bold aspirations in the public sector break down barriers, unlock innovation, and harness digital as a force for good. Over the past year, the world witnessed the power of digital technology to enable civil serv- ants to do their jobs and deliver vital services during an unprecedented period of hardship, challenge, and change. From economic recovery to sustainable development, public safety, and beyond, our worldwide public sector team is working closely with partners to help the public sector address global challenges – now and well into the future. You were faced with a challenging year right at the start of your tenure. Looking back at those first 18 months, where do you feel Microsoft has presented the greatest value for public sector organisations rising to the challenge of a global pandemic? There is no sugar-coating – the past year was brutally hard on us all. Looking back on all that we have gone through, both as people who depend on public services and as technology professionals, one of the things I am most proud of is that when governments around the world needed digital most, our industry and technolo- gies were there. Almost overnight, we saw entire countries dig- itise at an historically unprecedented rate. At the height of the crisis, our CEO Satya Nadella said he witnessed more digital transformation in two months than in two years. Many in the public sector went even further, observing that they experienced more transformation in two months than in 20 years because – for the first time ever – the risk of doing nothing became more than the risk of doing something. I am incredibly proud of the fact that Microsoft and our partners were on the frontlines of the technology industry’s response to the pandemic, standing shoulder to shoulder with civil servants around the world to help government agencies connect with citizens, protect critical infrastruc- ture, support first responders, and enable justice and educational systems to continue operating. From helping doctors to provide safe, hands-on treatment remotely thanks to the power of virtual We spoke with Dr Julia Glidden, corporate vice president of worldwide public sector at Microsoft, about how the public sector and its use of technology has changed in the last 18 months and how Microsoft hopes to shape the future of public service delivery Driving innovation in challenging times BY ANDY C L AY TON - SM I TH “When governments around the world needed digital most, our industry and technologies were there”