FARGO – Like many early Great Plains Software employees, Lynne Stockstad was fresh out of college, looking for a first job and unsure how long the ride was going to last.
“I started in a little start-up thinking it would be a short journey,” said the graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, which happened to be a go-to school for the company in the 1980s.
As it turned out, the journey is still going, and has lasted long enough to vault her into a global role at a corporate titan.
Twenty-four years after she started in technical support at Great Plains, she’s the general manager for worldwide public sector marketing at Microsoft, working with government, education and health care customers around the planet.
It’s a role that carries the responsibility of marketing products in a multibillion-dollar revenue line. It’s also one that allows Stockstad to work with the softer side of Microsoft, from helping with disaster recovery around the world (she estimates she spends 30 to 40 percent of her time on the road) to helping teachers use technology in the classroom.
“It’s just really, really meaningful work,” she said. She sees it as an extension of the values of a Great Plains “that was really living its mission statement” combined with the weight and reach of Microsoft.
And while Microsoft has garnered its detractors over the years, she says her own experiences there have shown her “absolutely how much the company does care about the impact it can have.”
Leaving Fargo in 2006 wasn’t an easy decision for Stockstad, who had two decade’s worth of family and friends here. But she didn’t have to uproot everything: Like many senior employees who made the move, she has a Minnesota lake home (hers is on Lake Franklin, southwest of Detroit Lakes), and when the weather turns for the better, the company gives her flexibility to work remotely from her summer hangout.
She also has a little bit of Fargo around her in Redmond. She’s part of what she calls a “Fargo sisterhood” there, a group of 10 women who made the move and who get together once a month to dine and catch up on new developments and old times.
And whenever she hears other colleagues talking about emulating successful practices that originated here – leveraging the “Fargo Factor,” she calls it – she can’t help but smile.
“The Fargo campus is definitely making a name for itself out here,” she said.