Hatfield Lecture 2021: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Over 1,000 alumni, students, and Cornell community members tuned in to hear from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack on March 24, for the 2021 Hatfield Lecture.

Pollack and Nadella discussed how organizations can move forward beyond the pandemic, the future of work, and how technology can help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Nadella praised Cornell’s quick response to the pandemic, including the university’s COVID testing technology and remote education delivery. “I shudder to think what the world would have looked like,” he said, “if not for the current generation of cloud technology.”

Nadella said the structural changes that have allowed us to keep moving forward despite the challenges of the last year, like remote education and telehealth, are here to stay in some form. “We’re going to take some of the things that have been learned during this period,” Nadella said, and grow from them, rather than going back to the way things were pre-pandemic.

One place Nadella sees this happening is in the workplace, with regards to employee wellbeing, collaboration, and learning. “Instead of narrowly thinking about productivity,” he said, “how do we think about the overall wellbeing of any employee?”

Nadella noted that organizations should be data-driven when analyzing what type of environment employees want to come back to once it’s safe to return to in-person work, what structural changes they’d need, and how to build the right workflows.

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