Philip Manzano the Community Affairs Manager at Microsoft Canada
Ever wonder how to get one of those rock star CSR jobs? It starts with a dedicated pursuit of your passion and followed by a commitment to achieving results. At least that’s how Philip Manzano, Microsoft’s Community Affairs Manager, was able to translate numerous volunteer and community engagement gigs into a career that is preparing underserved youth for our tech centric world. It’s an impressive story, and one we’re all too happy to share. Enjoy!
What does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?
As a Community Affairs Manager, the name of the game is relationship management. I am responsible for establishing and maintaining strong relationships with corporate partners, community organizations and government to build and execute strategic programs that address societal issues.
That said, every day is different. I can be delivering presentations to a room full of students one day, and then be on the front lines at a community agency the next. I can spend an entire day in calls with stakeholders across the country, or hop from meeting to meeting in the office. The only constant that remains is this: all my work is aimed towards making a positive, lasting impact – especially when it comes to helping young people.
Can you briefly describe your career path and how you got your current job?
My career path has been unconventional. It wasn’t a straight line, or the culmination of a master plan. It was a series of events and meaningful experiences that I learned from, ultimately positioning myself for success.
I went to school for professional writing and institution communications. Through this program, I learned how to communicate effectively. I volunteered with causes that were important to me – eventually finding volunteer roles where I could use my ability to write, to make a difference. Learned about the issues, I met the key players, I engaged with the community. I kept on with this practice – always learning at each step – and eventually I went from Communications Specialist, to Engagement Specialist, to Community Affairs Manager.
What’s the coolest part about your job?
By far the coolest part of my job are the stakeholders that I get to work with every day. As a Community Affairs Manager, I am tasked with maintaining strong relationships with our partners – and our partners are some of the best. More often than not, they are youth-focused organizations who truly make a difference in the lives of underserved youth. I learn about them, and get to hear inspirational stories. I get to be a part of their work. And this makes everyday worthwhile.
What advice would you give to a job seeker looking for meaningful work?
Follow your passion – whatever that may look like. I was able to find meaningful work because I put myself in environments that fostered the impact I wanted to see within the community. Every bit of experience you gain is valuable, and it can be used as a stepping stone towards what you ultimately want – being paid to do what you love. With a deep appreciation of this fact, I spent years volunteering at community agencies – building a base, making connections, and most importantly, learning about how to build communities. Each experience I had, whether paid or not, has led me to where I am today.
I would not be nearly as effective as I am, if I did not learn the ins and outs as a volunteer. And I only did that because I was truly passionate about the work.
So follow your passion.
What can you identify as the biggest opportunity and hurdle in your sector right now?
I work in an interesting space at the moment: the intersection of doing good within the community and the bustling world of a technology company. Our biggest opportunity within this space is to teach youth not only how to use technology, but also how to create technology to help them become the innovators and drivers of growth and opportunity in their communities. When young people learn how to code, there will be more doors open to them in the future, and that is a future we want to see.
In terms of hurdles – one of the biggest is engaging young girls in the coding craze. We want to create engaging programs that meaningfully engage girls to get involved in computer science. It has been a slower uptake, but this is a hurdle we definitely have to clear to create impact. It’s something we work towards everyday – and it’s all done through innovative thinking and strategic partnerships with some of the best organizations!