Moving from Operations to HR Helped Microsoft’s Chief Security Officer’s Career Path

The term “best” is best understood in context. When I asked Mike Howard to talk about the best things he’s done, it was in the context of choices that best helped his career path.

First, the Chief Security Officer for Microsoft said, “getting involved in Martial Arts was a good choice. It taught me discipline and provided a cultural connection because my mom is Japanese.”

Second, “Becoming a Police Officer was a good decision,” Read about the value of Mike’s police experience, “Microsoft’s CSO on Decision Making.”

Pushing Papers?

Third, Mike explained, “Moving to Human Resources was a great decision for my career.”

After seven years in operations at CIA, Mike said he took a break and moved to HR for a non-traditional rotational assignment away from Operations. He later returned to Operations.

We were on the phone so I felt safe to say what I was thinking. “So you moved from Operations to pushing papers?” I went on to say, “Up until HR, your story is a story of action. I don’t understand.”

Mike said that his friends within CIA didn’t understand either. They warned him that moving to HR would slow his career.

Moving to HR and other areas within CIA did not hinder Mike’s career path – it helped. “It expanded my skill sets, Mike explained, and broadened my perspective. It was a most rewarding experience.” For one thing, he learned about mentoring; something he’s still active in today.


Discipline from marital arts lifted Mike. Furthermore, it connected him with his culture and, in my opinion, at 14 years old, it gave him a point of identity.

Decision making ability was useful.

Diversity of perspective and skill sets aided Mike’s career path and opened doors of opportunity.


Thanks to Mike Howard for a great interview. I’m glad we connected.

Part 1: Microsoft’s CSO on Decision Making – Three suggestions for making great decisions.

Part 2: The Leadership Secret – What it takes to become a leader.


What choices have you made that enhanced your career path?


Don’t miss a single issue of Leadership Freak, subscribe todayIt’s free.  It’s private.  It’s always practical and brief.

Go to the main page of Leadership Freak by clicking the banner at the top of this page, look in the right-hand navigation bar, enter your email and click subscribe.  Your email address is always kept private.  Note:  if it doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter for a confirmation email.