Microsoft’s next chief executive faces a tough task to lead the firm forward, as the firm's founder and former CEO Bill Gates sets out the skills the company is looking for in its next leader.
Speaking at a shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Gates said the firm was still reviewing the potential applicants for the role but those in the running should be under no illusion of the challenges they face if they are successful.
“It's a complex, global business that the new CEO will have to lead. And they'll have to drive across fundamental transitions to create new growth and to attract and manage top talent,” Gates said at the meeting.
“We'll have to build on our strengths while addressing areas that we've got weaknesses or challenges. The person has to have a lot of comfort in leading a highly technical organisation and have an ability to work with our top technical talent to seize the opportunities.”
Gates did not give any indication of how many candidates are being considered or who they are, although he admitted they are currently meeting with potential hires.
“We're looking at a number of candidates, and I'm not going to give a timeline today, but we're pleased with our progress and feel that we're going through the process that will get the best person for the job,” he said.
Gates also used his speech during the meeting to praise outgoing chief executive Steve Ballmer for his time at the company as the second chief executive in the firm’s history.
“I do want to recognise and thank Steve for the leadership he's shown over the last 33 years, including the past 13 as CEO. In our entire 38-year history, we've had only two CEOs. And that alone makes us quite unusual. Steve and I really appreciated all the joys and challenges that came with being CEO,” he said.
“It's a real privilege to lead the incredibly talented group of employees we have. It's a privilege to work on the technology that's changed the world. And it's been exciting to deal with the problems that occupy the CEO's day.”
So far several potential candidates have emerged for the role at Microsoft, with former Nokia CEO and returning Microsoft employee Stephen Elop and Alan Mulally, the co-chief executive of Ford, said to be in the running.
Ballmer admitted earlier this week that he felt the time was right to step down from his role, when he realised he could be holding the company back.
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