While his classmates carried Paddington Bear, Tod Nissle ’17 toted his dad’s old briefcase to first grade. So, it was not surprising that he graduated JWU’s online MBA program with a 4.0 GPA while juggling a full-time job based at Microsoft as senior vice president at Compass Group North America.
Nissle, who is based in Redmond, Washington, oversees nearly 3,000 employees and contractors. (He jokes that the best way to focus is to “multi-ignore” rather than multi-task.) His management practices in particular were deepened by his JWU courses. “We looked at a lot of peer-reviewed case studies — the education truisms that validate why we do what we do,” says Nissle. “In an organizational behavior class we learned about the two-factor theory and that pay does not lead to long-term employee satisfaction. It can remove dissatisfaction; however, it’s elements such as recognition, status, challenge, growth, etc. that can lead to higher employee satisfaction.
“That principle applies to our initiatives: We have been hard at work redefining what it means to work for Compass, supporting Microsoft. We developed True North, a workplace culture initiative that focuses on growth, openness and caring, which relates to that two–factor theory. In economics class, we learned about political reasons for the balance of trade, so that’s something we think about as Microsoft scales internationally. It was helpful for when we work through cultural practices at our campus in India, where employees tend to say yes to everything, but they don’t always mean it in the same context.”
At Microsoft’s three-square-mile campus, which its 50–60,000 employees call a city, one Compass initiative was ensuring a variety of restaurants on campus, some of which rotate pop-up style. “Building a place where people stay on campus builds productivity, so we have autonomous 24-hour markets that don’t require staffing.
According to Nissle, for every one percent of participation growth, there is a productivity output of nearly $4 million.
“Microsoft is really a growth company disguised as a $90–billion behemoth. It’s a growth mindset attainable to all: There are such inspiring leaders and the cultural diversity is greater than you’d see in New York City. I really feel like I’m part of something.”
It’s where the motto of “fail fast” drives innovation at light speed: “We call it disruptive innovation.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of JWU Magazine.