Trust at scale: 5 takeaways from Microsoft’s Chief Digital Officer

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Jacky Wright, Chief Digital Officer of Microsoft, is no stranger to big cultural change. At GE, she served under both CEO Jack Welch and his successor, Jeff Immelt. At BP, she managed technologies during a major oil spill. And more recently, she interrupted her tenure at Microsoft to take a two-year civic leave to transform the UK tax and customs authority during Brexit.

Wright sat down with PwC US Chief Strategy and Communications Officer J.C. Lapierre for a conversation at the 2022 EmTech Exchange focusing on “Building trust with technology.” Wright and Lapierre homed in on how the C-suite can shape and transform culture from the top. Here are five key takeaways from the discussion.

J.C. Lapierre, PwC US Chief Strategy and Communications Officer

Jacky Wright, Chief Digital Officer and Corporate Vice President, Microsoft US

1. Trust requires courageous leadership

Questions and actions all leaders should consider:

  • Do I really understand who I am and what I’m about? What are my biases?
  • What do I need to do to create an organization that can drive transformation?
  • Be humble. Be willing to say, I don’t have all the answers.
  • Articulate the values that are important to you. Recognize where you have strong leaders who share your principles and where you might need to make changes.
  • Consider your say/do ratio: Make sure you follow through.

2. Understand your stakeholders and what’s important to them

Stakeholders are proliferating — employees, customers, investors, regulators — and then within each of those groups you’ll find multiple subsets. Consider the context for each group and determine what might be required to build trust with each of them. At the same time, don’t try to be all things to all people.

Pick the areas that matter to your purpose and communicate what those are, bringing your community of stakeholders along throughout.

3. Your mission is critical

Does your company’s vision statement resonate internally? With society? With customers? As companies begin to think more about ESG, it isn’t all about just making money. It’s about mission and purpose.

4. Set the tone with storytelling

Foster organizational culture by involving marketing and communications to set the tone from the top. Tie employee rewards to key areas of emphasis such as collaboration rather than pure outcomes. Build design teams that are multidisciplinary and multicultural to ensure product and services are truly inclusive.

Jacky Wright and J.C. Lapierre speak at the 2022 EmTech Exchange

5. Building a culture of trust evolves with time

“It’s a journey,” Wright said. “It’s not about knowing when you’ve arrived but that you are making the right journey.”

Meet our interviewees

J.C. Lapierre is PwC’s Chief Strategy and Communications Officer. She is endlessly intrigued by and passionate about helping people and organizations bring out the best in each other.

She loves looking ahead, creating strategy and connecting the dots to greet what’s next — collaborating with leaders to help develop, communicate and sustain corporate initiatives. That’s recently included creating investment capacity, designing digital transformation and guiding CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.

She has advised clients on risk management and business process controls systems, and held leadership roles in human capital and marketing and sales. She’s passionate about combining travel with education advocacy and sits on the board of Flying Kites, a progressive school network in Kenya.

Jacky Wright is the Chief Digital Officer and Corporate Vice President, Microsoft US, where she inspires and leads teams to help businesses leverage technology to drive innovation, adopt sustainable and accessible business models, and digitally transform.

Wright rejoined Microsoft in 2019 after completing a two-year secondment as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO) for HMRC, the British Government tax department. Jacky has extensive experience leading large-scale organizations driving digital transformation and market making solutions. Some of her previous roles include CIO roles at Microsoft, BP and GE.

Wright is widely recognized as a transformational global leader, innovative technologist and recognized STEM advocate. She uses her broad platform to drive thought leadership not just for the positive impact of digital transformation for business, but also for social, economic, and environmental change. 

As a woman of color, her passion, advocacy and influence to create a truly inclusive world is demonstrated in the various forums where she regularly speaks on diversity, digital inclusion and the power of inclusive leadership.

PwC and Microsoft are collaborating to help empower organizations to solve their most important challenges and build trust in tomorrow. Learn more about PwC’s industry solutions — built on Microsoft’s secure technology — designed to help you deliver sustainable growth, agility and lasting innovation.

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