Holly Holt
An entrepreneur inside a corporate giant
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Growing up in North Dakota, Holly Holt learned how to hunt at an early age. Since she only hunts what she eats, you can bet her special recipe for pheasant has been perfected over the years. Holt says that if her boss, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, were ever to come over for dinner he might be treated to her culinary bird delight. But Holt is far more concerned with serving up Microsoft's forthcoming CRM offering than with who is coming to dinner. Holt, who was with Great Plains Software for more than three years before Microsoft purchased the company in December 2000, is charged up about the December launch of MS CRM. Actually, the affable, positive, and downright perky Holt is nearly beside herself with excitement about the launch of a product she's been helping shepherd for several years. Holt admits to loving the start-up nature of the CRM project, and says she has an entrepreneurial spirit. But she doesn't expect that start-up approach to end when the product is rolled out. Even within a huge corporate entity like Microsoft, Holt says there is a lot of room for the start-up spirit she acquired at an early age from her parents, who ran a mercantile store. She also got her high energy from her dad. Holt, who sleeps just four or five hours per night, says she is not worried about slowing down. Her dad is in his sixties and is still running his business--albeit from the golf courses in Arizona. Making good decisions fast is also something she learned from her parents. Other solid Midwest values, like being honest and fair, and focusing on what is core, are essential to Holt's family and work life. Exactly what you expect from the likeable Holt, whose speech is peppered with phrases like "east of the Mississippi." But Holt is no pushover. Admittedly a hard driving manager with strong opinions, she holds herself and others to high standards. The secret, she says, is hire the right people and give them room to be successful. Holt claims to be good at matching people to their passions. And while her passion at work is CRM, outside of Microsoft she is a dedicated mom of three children ages 9, 6, and 3, and loves to vacation with them and her husband at the lakes of Minnesota or visit family in Arizona. While working for three years as the general manager of a plastics company in Fargo, Holt dreamed of being employed by Microsoft. However, she never imagined that the Redmond, Wash., software giant would eventually have its entire business applications division right in her backyard. Maybe that's why Holt believes the recipe for a successful career is part good planning and part luck. The Details Name: Holly Holt Age: 35 Title: Senior Product Manager, CRM, Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions, Microsoft Corp. Education: B.A.s in business and English from the University of Minnesota Most bizarre job: Wrapping gifts at my parents department store while in junior high school Latest book read: What Kids Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Raise Good Kids, by Peter L. Benson Favorite sports: Skiing, hunting Hobby: Gardening
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