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Top 50 Women in Technology

Fostering Innovation Microsoft Ireland’s consumer channels group director Orla Sheridan tells Lynne Nolan why recruiting top talent from all groups in the community and striving for gender balance will serve customers better.

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fter graduating, with a Batchelor of Science in Management from Trinity College Dublin and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from University College Galway, Orla Sheridan felt technology was going to have a huge impact in the future.” “I felt very underskilled in this area and pursued a career to ensure I would be in the thick of it, not necessarily from an IT, but from a business impact perspective, she recalls. Her instincts were to pay off, with Sheridan joining Digital Equipment Technology as part of her Postgraduate Diploma, before moving to work for the storage company called Iomega, which involved moving to Germany and Switzerland for a few years. After returning to Ireland, Sheridan joined Gateway Computers to lead its European Retail Marketing Division as Senior Marketing Manager EMEA, before moving to Dixons Stores Group, where she held the role of Technology Group Commercial Manager, prior to moving to Microsoft 10 years ago and establishing the Entertainment and Devices Division in Ireland.

Launching Xbox Sheridan, whose mantra is be Happy, Be Disciplined, Believe, is now Consumer Channels Group Director at Microsoft and has helmed major launches with the company. “I set up the Retail Division in Ireland, 98 | Silicon Valley Global

with a major focus on Xbox, then Xbox 360. I headed up our then Communications Sector, launching Windows Phone and bringing Cloud Partnerships to Telcos in Ireland, and two years ago established the Consumer Channels Group, which incorporates our Retail, Operator Channels (renamed) and OEM divisions, launching Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Office 365 and of course Surface,” she comments. Reflecting on the highlights of her time at Microsoft, Sheridan says “the Xbox 360 Launch was a fantastic time; we were a very small team and this is when we moved Xbox to the No.1 Gaming Platform in Ireland, where it has stayed,” adding that it is also “the times when things are not going so well that you really learn.” Her current role is “about ensuring we have an excellent team to support our partners to get our products and services to end-users, primarily Consumers and Small Businesses.” According to Sheridan, Microsoft has an “an amazing ecosystem right now that is constantly evolving Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Surface with all the services that bring these products to life and makes consumers’ lives easier and a lot more fun. Office, Xbox Live, Xbox Music, Games, SkyDrive and Skype, to name but a few.” “Like everyone involved in this sector, which moves at super speed,” the main challenge she faces in her position is “balancing the urgent and important, and trying to figure out where we need to be and how to build for that right now.”

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