Stepping up

Microsoft Canada’s new president officially started his job at the beginning of this month, but he’s been here since January.

Phil Sorgen replaces David Hemler, who wanted to be closer to his ailing father-in-law in the U.S.

Sorgen, who is the third person to head up the division in two years, has been with Microsoft Corp. since 1996. His most recent post was general manager for the software company’s Gulf Coast district, where he was responsible for building and executing strategies for sales, consulting, channel development and marketing.

Sorgen recently talked to us about the job so far, his plans for the company and why this may be his last move. This is an edited transcript.

CDN: How long is your commitment in Canada?

Phil Sorgen: It’s a very fair question. I’ve heard it from different partners and internal employees. Dave Hemler wasn’t here very long and it wasn’t by design, it wasn’t planned for. On the other hand, I’m fully committed to being here and going to be committed from day one. My family’s here and my daughter’s enrolled in school. We’re fully here. This isn’t bound by a contract. I’m here and I will be here for a long time.

CDN: What did you learn from Hemler during the one month you job shadowed him?

P.S.: Learning what the operating strategy was of the teams that were under Dave. That’s what’s so important about Microsoft Canada. Microsoft Canada is in place to make sure that as Microsoft Corporation creates products, messaging and does all of those things, we have to put it into Canadian terms.

CDN: You created and led the worldwide Microsoft oil and gas vertical and worked with Microsoft technology partners to provide solutions for oil and gas manufacturing customers. With a booming oil market in Alberta, how does this strategy play out in Canada? What role will Microsoft Canada’s partners play?

P.S.: If you look at any of our vertical strategies, they are all about our partners. The vertical integration of our products is largely through our partners. That is one of the biggest pillars of our vertical strategy.

Some of the advances that we’re doing around offerings, such as high performance computing, we’re working with the ISVs that do the reservoir simulation or do the seismic graphing. The ISVs are providing a lot of the industry expertise. We’re making sure that we have a very solid platform that they can run on so that the oil and gas companies can focus on what their core business is.

CDN: What exactly is your competition? Is it open source software?

P.S.: Open source is definitely a competitor. We continue to compete with Oracle. We’re aggressively competing with Google in search. Open source is not a product statement. Open source spans database and development tools and operating systems and office automation. We’re competing on many fronts there. We even compete in the categories of file and print with companies like Novell and for high performance computing with companies like Sun.

CDN: A Toronto-area reseller who was once sued by Microsoft for selling and distributing counterfeit Windows certificate of authenticity labels will be spending his weekends in jail after being convicted of copyright infringement. What will your role be in working with the Canadian team to prosecute people who pirate software?

P.S.: This is not just a Microsoft problem and its not just Microsoft’s responsibility to address this. There are legitimate companies that are challenged to compete if we don’t help them when other companies are exploiting, whether counterfeiting or making things illegal. One is by making sure that companies that are legit have opportunity to succeed in the marketplace.

Second, with $6.9 billion in R&D, we think it’s important to protect intellectual property rights.

The third thing is we have a responsibility to our customers, whether they’re business or consumer, to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make it clear that it’s legitimate.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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