John Thompson Replaces Bill Gates as Chairman of Microsoft Board - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

John Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments and former CEO of Symantec Corp, has been named chairman of Microsoft’s board of directors, according to reports.

An industry leader for more than 40 years, he has made phenomenal strides in technology, having served as the only African American leading a major tech company during his time at Symantec. The Florida A&M and MIT alumnus is credited with growing the software giant’s revenues from $632 million to $6.2 billion and leading the growth of its worldwide workforce to more than 17,500 employees.

Thompson has served as an independent director on the board of Microsoft and also brings his experience as a former vice-president at IBM to his current post.

An early innovator and investor in tech advances in Silicon Valley, Thompson has also been included among Black Enterprise’s “100 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America,” and was named “Corporate Executive of the Year” as head of Symantec in 2004.

The West Palm Beach, Fla. native was recognized early for his knack for sales and has had a go-getter approach to his advancement. In a recent New York Times article, Thompson shared the following on career and business lessons he’s learned through the years: “First, never take yourself too seriously, or work is boring. Next, people make the difference. You can have great technology, but if it’s not complemented by great people, it won’t go anywhere. Finally, customers buy from people they like. I can always circle back to former customers and suggest they might want to take a look at our products.”

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.


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