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The Qualtrics Seattle office lobby. (Qualtrics Photo)

Less than two months after leaving Microsoft, former executive Julie Larson-Green has found her next gig.

Experience management company Qualtrics is bringing aboard Larson-Green to be its chief experience officer, a role she held at Microsoft in the past. She will leverage her wide range of experience gained during 25 years at Microsoft to oversee design as well as the “people side” of the business, helping customers build company culture that will attract and retain employees.

“Culture has such a huge impact on the outcome of the product and the outcome of the business,” Larson-Green told GeekWire. “Putting that more front and center and not having as much of a silo as it’s been in the past is a really exciting opportunity.”

Qualtrics’ software focuses on four key aspects: customers, employees, brands and products. Its most recognizable work comes in the form of feedback surveys for more than 9,000 companies, including several airlines and healthcare.gov. In addition to focusing on brand improvement and customer satisfaction, Qualtrics also has products geared toward employee performance and product trends.

Bringing in Larson-Green further bolsters the company’s executive ranks in Seattle. Qualtrics is technically based in Provo, Utah, but considers Seattle its co-headquarters. Qualtrics employs 235 people in Seattle, and plans to add another 100 next year. That includes high level executives like John Thimsen, head of engineering, and Webb Stevens, head of product.

Julie Larson-Green. (Qualtrics Photo)

Larson-Green held a number of senior leadership roles at Microsoft over the years, playing key roles in the development of Windows, Office, and the Surface tablet. She was most recently Microsoft’s Chief Experience Officer for the Office Experience Organization. She stepped back from that role for health reasons, and then ultimately decided to leave the company in September.

Qualtrics was on Larson-Green’s radar long before she joined the company. Her husband, a professor at Seattle University and user of Qualtrics software, ran into Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith at the Salt Lake City airport when returning from a ski trip. Smith was wearing a Qualtrics shirt and the two struck up a conversation.

“You never know where swag will lead you,” Smith told GeekWire.

About a year later Smith and his team came to Microsoft HQ for a startup event for the senior leadership team. The intersection of product, design and people piqued Larson-Green’s interest. She kept coming back to it when she was evaluating her future over the summer.

Smith thinks Qualtrics’ emphasis on experience will become even more important in the future. Customer experience is already a top priority of many of the world’s biggest tech giants, as is building a company culture, and that is only going to continue.

“If I think about the future, we are all experience companies, and a lot of times, all we’re going to be doing is competing on experiences,” Smith said. “Very few innovations I’m watching that are very disruptive are original thought. They’re just doing it with a better experience for the user.”

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