I found instant connection with Eric and felt he understood my struggles and felt safe and encouraged to get his advice.
Eric was my first and the longest mentor in my Microsoft career. I have known Eric for over 20 years. I first met Eric through his class for coaching engineering managers. I found instant connection with Eric and felt he understood my struggles and felt safe and encouraged to get his advice. As my career grows, I have often used Eric as my sounding board and bounced off different leadership challenges. What I remember the most and probably his best advice to me is: “As a female in tech industry, you already stood out, so why try to blend in. Be comfortable with who you are, as that’s the only advantage you have over your male colleagues by standing out.”
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Eric for many years.
He’s been a steady source of knowledge and professional advice about so many things, ranging from design and architecture advice, to manager tips, to simple wisdom in navigating career moves. I’m certainly the better for my time spent with him. My career is going great!
[Eric] started mentoring me when I was a senior developer struggling to find ways to find room for myself on projects dominated by territorial coworkers.
Eric has been my mentor/coach for about a decade. He started mentoring me when I was a senior developer struggling to find ways to find room for myself on projects dominated by territorial coworkers. I would not still be in the industry without his help and guidance finding my way through several tough situations I found myself in. With his help, I have grown into a manager confident in my ability to lead teams where people feel more included and confident than I did earlier in my career.
In my most productive meetings with Eric, I come and share something that is stressing me out, generally some challenge related to working with other people or having my voice heard. He listens to me, takes the time to really understand what the root of the problem is, who the players are and what I want out of the situation. Then he shares a structured way of thinking about the situation that is always insightful. We talk through possible next steps and how they’re likely to play out.
Because he knew I wanted to grow in to a manager role, long before I was actually a manager he would talk to me about both what I could do as an IC and also what my manager could do in the situation. This gave me experience thinking through the types of levers a manager has available and how and when to use them long before I took the leap into management. This helped me grow into the manager I wanted to be much faster and more confidently than would have been possible without his mentorship and coaching.
I now ask myself “what would Eric do” when I find myself in a tough situation (or mentoring someone else in a tough situation), and more often than not, that’s enough to help me find a path forward.
The leadership and mentorship Dr. B provided gave me confidence and constructive suggestions.
Dr. Eric Brechner was my manager in 2014 when I interned for Microsoft. At the start of the internship, he aligned my skillset with the team’s needs. He patiently facilitated my project progression, prompting me with questions to expose hidden assumptions. Dr. B helped me to understand what I needed to learn to grow my career, and he provided resources, detailed feedback, and the space to grow as a professional at my own pace.
The leadership and mentorship Dr. B provided gave me confidence and constructive suggestions. He offered feedback with specific examples, which added context to his recommendations. In addition, he took the time to learn my needs and communication style, which encouraged me to put more effort into developing my leadership style. I am grateful to have worked with Dr. B; he was the first person to help me identify habits that could stagnate my career growth. Dr. B was a great career coach and sponsor!
Eric is kind-hearted, loyal, and is a good listener who often provides the kinds of fresh perspectives and new ideas that are so valuable to those learning to move up in an organization.
I highly recommend Eric Brechner as a mid-career coach. He’s talented insightful, extremely skilled and has a great sense of humor to go along with his many years of experience as a Leader in the field of High Tech. I worked with Eric during my own difficult transition from manager of a small team of 5 based in the U.S. to a much larger international team of 35 with a complex Worldwide reporting structure. With Eric’s guidance and support and his complete trust in my ability to succeed I was able to make this transition and grow exponentially without falling to pieces or becoming frustrated with the sudden organizational change that handed me so much new responsibility.
Eric is kind-hearted, loyal, and is a good listener who often provides the kinds of fresh perspectives and new ideas that are so valuable to those learning to move up in an organization. I highly value the time I spent with him and the valuable lessons I learned during that first big transition in my own career.
[Eric] helped me become an educator, and exposed me to a whole new set of engineering methodologies, which I then used to enhance the capabilities of numerous engineers across the planet.
Before I ever actually met Eric, I was reading his I.M. Wight “Hard Code” columns, and found more often than not I was nodding my head “Yes, exactly!!”. It’s been 20 years, and I still find the pearls of wisdom that resonate and give a different perspective. I had the opportunity to grow my career working in the Engineering Excellence team, and worked directly for Eric for 4 years. He helped me become an educator, and exposed me to a whole new set of engineering methodologies, which I then used to enhance the capabilities of numerous engineers across the planet.
Eric is a thoughtful empathetic, and very experienced leader. We actually worked together to establish the first iteration of Career Stage Profiles, which were guidance on what is expected of engineers at various stages of their career growth and development. Eric has been in the industry long enough that giving guidance on how to make progress in an tech career is a natural part of his being. His knowledge, experience, and personal empathy make him a strong and trusted ally and coach for anyone’s career development aspirations.
Eric’s patience, insight, and feedback are unparalleled, and I am grateful for the professional and personal growth I achieved with his guidance.
I am a Microsoft employee who has worked with Eric during two summer internships, and two years full time at Microsoft. During my time with Eric, he helped me transition from college student/recent college graduate to experienced software engineer. Some examples of how Eric helped me:
- Eric assembled and managed an extremely diverse team at Microsoft, so when I joined I found I was able to quickly integrate myself into his team and connect with other teammates. Because I felt like part of the team from Day 1, I quickly gained confidence in speaking up and voicing my opinions in meetings.
- Something I initially struggled with during my time under Eric was pushing back or saying “no.” In a private setting, Eric took the time to coach me through different scenarios and practice alternative responses. Under Eric, I was able to develop better communication skills and feel much more confident in my interactions with peers.
Eric’s patience, insight, and feedback are unparalleled, and I am grateful for the professional and personal growth I achieved with his guidance.
Eric is not only an excellent software engineer and leader, but also an experienced, brilliant, and genuine mentor.
My name is Sophie Tian and I am a master’s student in computer science at the University of Washington. Eric Brenchner was my manager when I did a summer internship at Microsoft in 2018. At the start of the internship, he worked with me to decide on a project that would fit my skill, experience, and interests, as well as the team’s needs. He patiently helped me learn how to determine what I needed to know to decide on a project, how to ask clarifying questions, and how to prioritize what I wanted to do.
There were many moments during my internship where I realized how fortunate I was to have Eric as my manager. Some examples:
- I am Deaf, female, and Asian. I often felt my voice wasn’t heard, and it was hard to speak up for myself in an industry environment. I trusted Eric enough to be honest with him about my struggles. He was extremely supportive. He talked with me through my fears and encouraged me to speak up for myself. During our team meetings, he would often check on me by asking, “Sophie, do you have anything to add?”. This gave me an opportunity to speak and become comfortable adding my input. As the summer progressed, I became much more confident in both my work environment and in my overall interactions with people.
- Near the end of the internship, a series of unexpected and disruptive events happened. I had to work remotely for a week to help a friend. My return flight was delayed so I couldn’t return on time. To top it off, lightning struck our datacenter in Texas, so I lost a development package. Because this cost us so much time and, as often happens, some other things didn’t go as expected during the development process, it seemed impossible for me to finish the last task to demo our project as planned. Three days before our demo, Eric saw how stressed I was. He talked to me and said, “If you cannot finish this. I am happy with what you have now. You can just demo what you have.” This was an enormous relief, and with a much lighter mood I managed to push through the last task and demo the final product. In the end, Eric said, “You know, if you are super stressed, it won’t be fun. If you can take off the mental load, magic might happen.”
- During that summer, I also faced a very hard decision about my future: I had a potential opportunity to become a full-time employee at Microsoft, and I also was accepted to graduate school at the University of Washington. Eric helped me to understand the pros and cons of each choice and eventually I made the decision to get my master’s. He fully supported my decision. I am extremely grateful that I will be able to return to Eric’s team when I complete my degree.
Eric is not only an excellent software engineer and leader, but also an experienced, brilliant, and genuine mentor. He has interests far beyond software, and we often discussed books in many genres–he recommended some that I found fascinating. Working with him has vastly broadened my horizons, and I view him as a trustworthy friend.
Eric helped me to understand what I needed to learn to grow my career, and gave me the resources, detailed feedback, and literally, the space to do it.
I am a long-time Microsoft employee who worked for Eric for about 6 years across Xbox and Windows, working on the engineering system. Eric helped me to understand what I needed to learn to grow my career, and gave me the resources, detailed feedback, and literally, the space to do it. Eric is the kind of leader and mentor that inspires confidence, a desire to learn and grow, and who gives you the details and feedback you need to be successful. He takes the time to learn your unique needs and work style, and then finds ways to teach you how to be successful using them. Through this, he sets a strong example for how to lead and grow a team using positive, encouraging, and inclusive approaches.
Some examples of how Eric has helped me:
- I am an extremely kinesthetic learner (aka, I only learn while in motion), I often need to process information verbally (aka, I need to talk through problems), and I naturally have a loud voice that carries well. Due to this, I am unable to be productive in open office space, because constant motion and noise have negative impacts on those around you and are strongly socially discouraged. Xbox used open office spaces, but Eric was able to find a creative solution to get me my own office space, much to the delight of both myself and everyone around me. This enabled me to be orders of magnitude more productive. Very few managers would have taken this request as seriously or have put as much effort into meeting it, but Eric did, and I remain very grateful.
- I love working in the depths of the engineering system, but had trouble communicating to broader audiences why certain solutions were needed. Eric took the time to understand the details of the system, what solutions were needed, and then worked with me (using his legendary “red pen” 😊) to patiently help me learn to communicate more effectively and concisely. Being able to ask him detailed questions about why he communicated the way he did and explore tradeoffs and choices to communicate the same message was incredibly helpful. He took the time to meet me where I was at in my skills and help me grow them over a multi-year period in an incremental and digestible way. To this day, and even as I write this, I often recall his guidance and edit my communications based on it.
- I have greatly grown in my ability to interview, find good talent for my team, and to grow that talent over time as part of my team with Eric’s guidance. Eric is the best interviewer and talent finder I have ever seen, with an incredibly accurate ability to find overlooked “diamonds in the rough” and bring them into his team to be polished. This extends to how he approaches career growth (1:1’s, in Microsoft parlance) and how he is able to find what works for you to help you grow specific skills and abilities so that you are successful. He delights in teaching anyone who is interested how to improve their own ability to interview, select good talent, and grow their skills over time, and I have benefited greatly from it.
[Eric] made sure that I did not let my disability dictate how I worked or limit what I could achieve.
Eric was my manager and during that time he made sure that I did not let my disability dictate how I worked or limit what I could achieve. He made sure that I did not feel limited by my challenges and that I could achieve, even if through different means, the same goals as anyone else in my field.
He’s the kind of manager/mentor that you’ll want to keep working with.
Eric was my professor in UWB in 2016 and later I worked as his TA for two quarters in 2017. During those two years I got to experience his profound professional support and solid leadership. He demonstrated the essence of great leadership by efficient management and earnestly practice of what he advocates, the serving spirit of a leader. He takes initiative in a large scope of projects while taking care of the most trivial details. He’s the kind of manager/mentor that you’ll want to keep working with. From his rich life experience as both a manager and a human being, you’ll always find more spiritual nourishment to absorb.