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Post-Microsoft, Schuster To Focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Former Microsoft Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster on Wednesday formally announced her post-Microsoft plans -- an advocacy role to bring more diversity, equity and inclusion into the tech industry.

Schuster, who has supported and advanced women in technology organizations during her seven years leading Microsoft's worldwide partner organization and gave an influential TEDx talk on allies and gender equity in November 2020, will pursue the role as CEO of Gavriella Schuster LLC and through a number of board of director and advisory board positions.

"I have joined the board of several leading organizations including Women in Cloud, Women in Technology Network, International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, the SHE community, the Women's Business Collaborative, Corent Technology, chairman of the advisory board for Artificial Solutions, and strategic advisor to Berkshire Partners to focus on bringing more diversity, equity and inclusion into the tech industry," Schuster said in a blog post on her site.

In the post, Schuster traced her current efforts to what she called a "rude awakening" at a meeting five years earlier.

I was speaking to a room of women and transgender people talking about their various experiences at work. As I was listening to them tell their stories of times when they felt dismissed, disconnected, overlooked or invisible, I realized that many of the specific experiences they had were shared experiences. There were commonalities in the microaggressions that they were experiencing. On their own these were small, but over time built up into insurmountable walls for many of these women to progress and succeed in their teams.

As I ruminated on their experiences and interactions with the members of their teams, I realized that I too had experienced many of these same microaggressions over the course of my career. But I had attributed the reasons for those bad experiences as being my fault -- something I had done or said that had brought about the microaggression against me. As a consequence I had pivoted, changed my behavior, developed ways to respond and succeed in the face of those challenges. What I realized though, was that I had also become numb to the microaggressions.

Microsoft named Rodney Clark to take over Schuster's channel chief role starting April 1.

At the time Schuster planned to help with the transition, and Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Global Partner Solutions at Microsoft, hinted in an internal e-mail that a diversity-related future was in the cards for Schuster. He wrote that he and Schuster determined that "after nearly 7 years of leading our partner ecosystem, now would be a good time for her to shift gears and explore opportunities to focus on her passion for business development and furthering the cause of diversity and inclusion."

Schuster thanked Microsoft, the partner community and others for their support in her blog post.

Posted by Scott Bekker on August 18, 2021