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Jennifer Bagshaw (1999, Music) discusses her career with 'one of the largest corporate tech companies on the planet'.
29 Feb 2024
Members of the executive leadership of Vodafone and Microsoft (Jennifer Bagshaw - far left)
Members of the executive leadership of Vodafone and Microsoft (Jennifer Bagshaw - far left)

As a music student at Christ Church, I saw many of my esteemed peers passing out from the impressive gates of Tom Tower into wonderful music careers. Teaching, lecturing, publishing, composing, performing and so on.  But at complete odds with this was the handful who chose a completely different route – giving themselves over, instead, to the world of finance, politics, law or IT.

I never considered myself to be one such ‘turncoat’, and am still very active in my musical pursuits outside of work, however for my career my curiosity and the desire to test myself got the better of me… 

When I was invited to join one of the largest corporate tech companies on the planet (Microsoft), and to lead a business partnership with one of the largest and most challenging Telecommunications companies in Europe (Vodafone), I had my reservations! I considered myself to be a creative, individualistic, rather autonomous character not in the habit of ‘fitting in’ or holding my tongue. I loved working previously in a fun, vibrant and energetic start up and wondered how I could thrive in what I perceived to be a slow moving, highly regulated, process driven environment.

However, it turns out that culturally incompatible characteristics are often exactly what is sought by organisations wishing to change, and drive transformation for their clients.

In my case, thinking and acting differently – tapping into my feel for human nature like a musician or artist rather than relying solely on critical analytical thinking – enabled me to lead a team to win one of last year’s most notable tech partnerships, hitting the press in early January. 

Vodafone and Microsoft sign 10-year strategic partnership to bring generative AI, digital services and the cloud to more than 300 million businesses and consumers - Stories

How? Humour me in drawing some parallels. 

Getting creative: building a team of skilled and diverse individuals who could come together in such a way as to make the collective efforts far more than the sum of parts. 

Taking the baton to lead the way: setting the pace and direction, indeed the tone of engagement, to optimally capture the customer’s attention and move them to experience what we wished to portray. 

Generating rapport, even trust, to ride the peaks and troughs of the journey together whilst building momentum towards a collective goal.

Drawing on the intellect to brain-storm with my client but also tapping into intuition and personal relationships to understand what combination of themes or business values can come together to create harmony rather than discord. And finally? A desire to do some good in the world.

In summary, focussing on the human element in any business transaction, since essentially any organisation is ultimately run by people who will all have individual emotions, thoughts, inclinations, fears, ambitions etc that mesh in a unique way to lead them to make collective decisions.

Microsoft seeks to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to do more.  Vodafone aims to connect for a better future, by building a sustainable digital society that is inclusive for all. The new 10-year partnership between Vodafone and Microsoft does both, by bringing scaled digital platforms to more than 300 million businesses, public sector organisations and consumers across Europe and Africa, utilising the latest in Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Cloud technology and FinTech.  This had never been in my sights at the dreaming spires of Oxford, however I’m now inspired to ‘play on’ and see where else my artistic inclinations can take me in my tech career!


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