Skip to Content

Darla Moore School of Business

  • Image of Halle Hughes in front of the Helsinki Cathedral in Finland

Alumna thrives in Microsoft Western Europe manager role

Moore School alumna Halle Hughes (‘17 international business and finance, ’18 MIB) was promoted to Microsoft Western Europe in her first year with the technology company.

First hired as an intern in 2019 for Microsoft Finland, she landed her first full-time position with the company as a transformation program manager in Finland in May 2020; she was promoted to area change manager for Microsoft Western Europe in August 2020.

Hughes credits the Moore School with giving her the opportunity to live and work abroad with a multinational company. As part of the Moore School’s double-degree program, Hughes earned a second master’s degree in management and international business at Aalto University after graduating from the Moore School Master of International Business program.

Hughes said that the MIB double-degree program gave her a “really great” understanding of how to work with diverse individuals.

“There were people in my [Moore School] program from all over the world as well as people who didn't major in business for their bachelor's degree,” Hughes said. “This [understanding of diversity] was strengthened even more at Aalto University where I was working with students who had design and technical backgrounds in the international design business management program. I think the MIB [double-degree] program taught me empathy and how to constantly challenge the current view or way of working, two essential attitudes that I use in my daily work.”

Hughes added that the MIB double degree program helped her learn about herself. It taught her how she “works effectively in groups and at an individual level, which is something I have to balance at work [at Microsoft.]”

As a Microsoft area change manager, Hughes incorporates change management principles into special projects and ongoing programs provided across Western Europe. She said her team, which includes her and two colleagues, serve as “a sort of change management center of excellence”, she said.

One of her ongoing projects is coordinating a regular training platform aimed at providing business and strategic updates from subject-matter experts across Western Europe on new processes or tools that could improve efficiency, save time, help sellers to grow, among other things.

“A big part of undergoing change management requires constant communication across different stakeholder groups, so this past year I've learned how to communicate effectively to leaders within Western Europe, our manager community and my own peers,” Hughes said. 

As she progresses with Microsoft, Hughes said she is grateful for the Moore School’s MIB program for giving her confidence and the constant drive to better herself.

“I am especially happy with my investment in the double-degree MIB program,” she said. “I think any way in which you can immerse yourself into a different culture will allow you to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge you to grow.”

Noting the differences in the way that business is conducted in Finland and then Western Europe compared to the United States, Hughes said it has been a fun challenge to adapt to the new work cultures.

“One of the major differences I see is with work/life balance.,” Hughes said. “Holiday time is not scarce [in Finland or Western Europe.] In fact, it's highly encouraged, even within the leadership team. Finns and many other Europeans, particularly Nordics, can also be much more direct than Americans, so there's really no beating around the bush in business conversations, and meetings tend to get straight to the point.”

Having always been someone who wants to know about all her opportunities before she makes a decision, Hughes said that she hopes her future is unknown. She said that in five years all she can hope is to be “doing something that excites me and be somewhere I think I could make a difference.”

She advises current Moore School students to do the same.

“Always remain open to new opportunities and be flexible,” Hughes said. “A lot of times, things may not go your way, but with a lot of perseverance and open-mindedness, you may find yourself in a better situation than you had originally intended.”

-Erin Mooney

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.