Michael Nauman stands in front of the Microsoft logo at his workplace
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Sara Epstein Moninger

University of Iowa alumnus Michael Nauman wanted to work for a company where he could have a positive impact on others. At IT giant Microsoft, he does just that.

Michael Nauman landed a job at one of the world’s largest tech companies on a bet.

As college graduation approached, a friend wagered that Nauman couldn’t get a job interview with Google, Microsoft, or Apple. It turned out to be a bad bet—for the friend.

That night, Nauman submitted applications to all three companies and ended up interviewing with two of them. An offer from Microsoft stood out. In fact, the 2015 University of Iowa alumnus, who had served undergraduate internships with John Deere and Kum and Go Corporation, had multiple job offers upon receiving a degree in business analytics. But he says he wanted to work for a company that shared his values and where he could help people. A consulting job at Microsoft fit the bill.

“I get to work with a variety of companies—from organizations as small as 50 people to those with a couple hundred thousand employees—that need Microsoft support and assistance and help them do exactly what they need to do. It really helps drive my passion for helping people,” he says. “Plus, Microsoft has a giving campaign every fall and they donate money for time that I spend volunteering. They’re focused on giving back to the community and finding out how they can be a better global citizen. I think that’s really impactful.”

Nauman has been working for Microsoft since 2015 and is based in Chicago. He frequently travels across the country to meet with clients wanting to implement the company’s technologies to achieve their business goals. When he is in town, Nauman often works from home or else at a local coffee shop or out of the company’s corporate space in a downtown high-rise. He enjoys the mobility and flexibility of working “out of his backpack” and being able to interact with a variety of groups.

“I love being able to work with a team of people and build off of their skills and their passions,” he says. “When I first visit a customer, they’re usually a little bit worried or nervous or just not 100 percent sure what they’re looking for, and by the time we leave, it’s like we’ve become an extension of their team. It’s kind of bittersweet knowing you’ve built this relationship and it has to come to an end.

It was at the University of Iowa that Nauman, a Dubuque, Iowa, native, built on his love of numbers and further developed his people skills. He says numerous influential and attentive professors in the Tippie College of Business and a capstone project working on a team to help a local business prepared him well for his work at Microsoft. He also had a formative experience as a member of the fraternity Delta Tau Delta, where he and his peers were involved in a number of community service projects.

“We partnered with the UI Women’s Resource and Action Center on educational materials about consent and informational sessions on what it means to be a man in this day and age. We wanted to help ground our members and push that conversation forward,” he says. “Working with people with different perspectives to accomplish a common goal really helped build my soft skills. It translated well to the classroom and set me on my career path.”

The University of Iowa recognized Nauman for his campus efforts by naming him to the Homecoming court his senior year.

“Every day at Iowa was a treat in itself, but serving on the Homecoming court and being acknowledged for the contributions I was making was really special,” says Nauman, whose wife, Emily Brannon, also was named to the court that year. “It made me very appreciative of what Iowa had instilled in me and the overall process, through my four years there, of learning how to be the best student and the best community member I could be. I think that helped me stand out when I applied to Microsoft.”

Nauman regularly returns to the UI campus, where he serves on the business college’s Young Alumni Board and mentors students. Giving back, he says, is important to him.

“I had a lot of amazing opportunities while at Iowa. I’ve made great relationships with professors and other students, and keeping that to myself just doesn’t seem fair,” he says. “If someone else can benefit from my experience and insight, why not share it?”

One piece of advice Nauman imparts to students is this: “Don’t sell yourself short.”

“It wasn’t until I started talking with professors and people around me that I started to figure out what my value and my worth were, and that gave me confidence as I applied to companies like Microsoft,” he says. “You may be thinking your GPA isn’t where it should be, but you will never really know what you’re going to get until you actually step out and try it. Talk to professors and get involved on campus. Experience is what many companies are looking for, so put your best foot forward and be willing to take that next step.”