From the School of Engineering to Microsoft's headquarters in USA
Karl Hammar, former Assistant Professor at the School of Engineering (JTH), Jönköping University (JU), now works at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, USA.
“Something that JTH does well and that I will have use for at Microsoft is the very close collaboration with industry, which is a big advantage compared to many other universities,” he says.
Karl Hammar, who was Head of Department of Computing at JTH, last fall started as Senior Technical Program Manager at Microsoft in Redmond, a role for which his background is well suited. He works between the development team and the program managers and gets to do a bit of each. He gravitates more towards the technical side with development and programming, but the position also includes analyses, concept work and talking to customers. He describes Microsoft as an enormously large organization with an incredibly well-oiled machinery where everything just works.
“With an organization of 200,000 employees worldwide, Microsoft cannot afford to have administrative or IT problems because it would affect the business too much. Therefore, they are good at simplifying things and removing roadblocks that could cause problems, he says.
American corporate culture
Karl Hammar tells us that at Microsoft it is very clear what the employees' tasks are and what the management wants them to do.
“It is partly about team spirit, and partly about everyone understanding that they are cogs in a big machine and that everyone must do what makes the machine work. The tasks you work are often complex, but the direction is clear. This is what American corporate culture tends to look like. It's different and not everyone would enjoy such an environment, but for me it's quite positive. There are six tiers from me to Microsoft's CEO and in such a large organization it is easy for things to become difficult to manage, but the communication channels work surprisingly well.
"Has the power to deliver products that have big impact"
Karl Hammar has collaborated with Microsoft for a long time before he started working for them and eventually a position opened up for him at the company's headquarters in Redmond.
“Why did I take this job? Well, it's exciting to work at one of the world's largest technology companies. It's exciting that it says Microsoft on your access card and it's exciting to be in an organization that has the power to deliver products that have a big impact on this market. When Microsoft develops a new product, we put together a team and before you know it there are a hundred people working on it. It's a completely different scale and not many other companies have such capabilities or resources.
Has it owns bus lines
Karl Hammar and his family live in Issaquah, a suburb about a 30 minute drive from Redmond. Microsoft has its own bus lines in the region that drives the staff to the head office free of charge. He and his family moved there in January.
“I generally like USA and have enjoyed myself very much when I have been here. If you earn well, and you do when you work for a company like Microsoft, it is an extremely comfortable society to live in. There are frictions in the USA that are not as common in Sweden, but I have a generally positive attitude to living in the US.”
The rainiest city in USA
Redmond is located outside of Seattle in the northwestern United States. It is close to the border with Canada so the climate is similar to Sweden, but with somewhat milder winters.
“They say that Seattle is the rainiest city in the US, but the summers seem nice.”
Karl Hammar does not know how long he and his family will stay in USA. The form of visa he has is for three years, but it can be extended.
“How long we stay depends on how long Microsoft needs my skills, and for how long I enjoy working here. If everything goes well and we continue to enjoy ourselves, it could be for a long time.”
Karl Hammar has developed the RealEstateCore standard for smart buildings, which is used by the country's two largest real estate companies, Vasakronan and Akademiska Hus. RealEstateCore organizes the amount of data handled in buildings to control things like air conditioning, lighting and heating. In this way, you can optimize the operation of properties so that they become more energy efficient.
Karl Hammar has developed RealEstateCore through his research project Building Knowledge, for which he was awarded the SPARK Award last spring. Microsoft uses RealEstateCore in buildings at its corporate headquarters in Redmond, and the standard is recommended for use with Microsoft's Azure Digital Twins product, which is sold to customers globally.