Friday Apr 22, 2016

"Recruiting And Unlocking Potential Talent Within The Workplace"

Neil Barnett

Director, External Legal Affairs Microsoft

Scribe: Neil Bretvick Introduced by: Adam Mihlstin

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Speaker Program:

Adam Mihlstin introduced our speaker, Neil Barnett, Director of External Legal Affairs for Microsoft, who is here to speak about workplace diversity, and their Autism Hiring Program.

The program was started about one year ago.  It’s been a learning process for them.  They work with a number of companies to help in this endeavor; SAP being one Neil mentioned is a leader in this area.   With a goal of 1% of their workforce, they currently have about 100 employees in this capacity.

Neil showed a video from the news, showing an example of an autistic young man named Kyle who works with Microsoft on the Xbox team.  Neil mentioned Kyle’s strengths are a great fit for game development.

Microsoft is looking to hire across the company and not just for tech jobs.  The goal is to find the right roles for people in this program.  They have a similar employment program through their real estate group, which has had a high success/low attrition (1% rate) which they are referring to for their autism program.

Neil demonstrated the program, from planning, pre-screening of applicants, skills evaluation, and hiring.  Once in the program, there is a two week skills evaluation process to recruit workers and begin to identify what roles they may play.  This process takes place on the Microsoft Redmond Campus.  Once this process is completed, the Company gathers to discuss the candidates.  About half are typically hired; the rest are considered for referrals to other companies.  The manager and direct peer team gets training on Autism in the workplace to assist these workers.

Q&A:  How does Microsoft measure return on investment/time spent on this program?

There is no measure or metric they use.  They are not really looking at things like error runs, etc. of these workers.

Q:  Do they use retired/alumni workers?

A:  Great suggestion!

Q:  Are you registered for our race?

A:  He just smiled!

1000 lbs of fresh produce was donated in Neil’s honor to Rotary First Harvest by Adam Mihlstin.

Club Business:

Mike Ralph – Gave the Invocation and pledge

Carmela– Introduced visiting Rotarians and guests

Wendi mentioned our exchange student Leo is raising money with a French dinner event, and that details are on BBRC website.

Tanya Franzen-Garrett introduced student of the month Josephine Lee, of Sammamish High School.  Josephine will be attending the UW in the fall.  She is interested in studying social sciences to find ways to help people.

Carmela gave her vocational minute.  She is the Happy Calories girl.  Most of her clients come from YouTube and Facebook via Google.  The goal is to help clients live healthier, happy lives and increase self-esteem, etc.   She sells products through her business to promote her business.

Laura Cosacchi was recognized as Rotarian of the month for April for her work with Rotaract.

John Martinka, Wendi Fischer, Mike Ralph and Dustin Walling stood up to recognize contributors to the 10K Run.  The race committee was thanked as well.  Steve Luplow was given a special recognition for all his contributions, as was Joellen Monson.  BBRC has 100% participation for Rotary Foundation and the Malaria project, Wendi asked all club members to participate in some way to the Run.  Dustin said we need 28 more volunteers.  Please go to to sign up.  We will meet at the Bellevue Downtown Park at 6:15 AM, rain or shine!

Anne Norman, Sergeant at Arms recognized club member birthdays and posted a cute baby picture of Paul Chapman.  Those unable to guess who the picture was of were fined $1.   She talked about Emancipation Day, April 15 this year, and gave some historical perspective.  Patriots Day was celebrated April 18 and Anne explained how both days affected this year’s tax deadline for we CPAs in the club.

A video of Prince playing the guitar solo of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was shown by President Paul.

President’s Thought For The Week:

Prince:  “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing called life.”



About the Speaker

Mr. Barnett works as a Director in Microsoft’s Corporate External Legal Affairs for the Chief Accessibility Officer. He is currently leading the company’s efforts for Inclusive hiring for people with disabilities as well as a consumer and enterprise accessibility support team.

Since Microsoft’s announcement at World Autism Day last April, by Mary Ellen Smith- CVP of Operations, Mr. Barnett has been focused on listening, learning, designing, and operationalizing the Microsoft Autism Hiring program.

Previously Mr. Barnett worked on Bing Search, building a global support team, enabling the Bing Yahoo Search Alliance. Mr. Barnett earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. Away from work he enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid runner and tennis player.