Microsoft’s top lawyer is about to start assuming more responsibilities within the company, and on Friday he was given a brand new title to go along with new duties.
Brad Smith, formerly Microsoft’s executive vice president and general counsel, is now the company’s president and chief legal officer.
Smith was never your average corporate general counsel. He talks to the media regularly and has become the face of many Microsoft issues, from the company’s work to promote tech education in Washington state to fighting international search warrants.
“Brad has long had a broad role at the company and now I’m asking him to lead more new initiatives working closely with his peers on the Senior Leadership Team,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in an email sent to employees on Friday morning. “I’ll look to Brad to play a bigger role in strengthening our external relationships and representing the company publicly.”
Microsoft previously had divisional presidents but has generally shifted away from that practice. Smith is now the only person on the company’s senior leadership team with the title of president. Microsoft hasn’t had a companywide president since Rick Belluzzo left the position in 2002.
The title change won’t cause any other shakeups, but Nadella says lawyers on Smith’s team will be picking up some of his old legal duties to free him up to be more involved in Microsoft’s strategic planning.
For now, Smith will be leading Microsoft’s initiatives on privacy, security accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion.
“Thank you Brad for your ongoing contributions to Microsoft — I learn from you constantly and deeply value your advice,” Nadella wrote in the email. “I look forward to what you will do in the years ahead.”
Smith’s title change is just the latest shuffling in Microsoft’s upper ranks. Nadella, who is now well into his second year at the helm, has been slowly restructuring teams and moving top leaders around to try to achieve the kind of corporate culture he’s looking for. One of the biggest changes came in June, when four high-ranking executives left the company and Terry Myerson was given control of the new Windows and Devices Group.
Here’s the full text of Nadella’s email from this morning.
From: Satya Nadella
Sent: Friday, September 11, 2015
Subject: Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer
Today, Brad Smith is taking on the new title of president and chief legal officer, reflecting that his accountabilities extend beyond that of the General Counsel role.
Brad has long had a broad role at the company and now I’m asking him to lead more new initiatives working closely with his peers on the Senior Leadership Team. I’ll look to Brad to play a bigger role in strengthening our external relationships and representing the company publicly. I’ll also look to him internally to partner with others on the SLT to lead the work needed to accelerate initiatives that are important to our mission and reputation such as privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion, to start.
Brad will work with me and others on the SLT in the coming weeks to help us organize ourselves for success, identifying the right way to have impact on these cross company initiatives. Brad’s current leadership team will assume additional day-to-day legal responsibilities to free up a portion of Brad’s time and focus.
Thank you Brad for your ongoing contributions to Microsoft — I learn from you constantly and deeply value your advice. You exemplify the growth mindset that we’re working so hard to permeate our culture. You look for new opportunities, you listen, you learn and you push us forward. I look forward to what you will do in the years ahead.