Get To Know Our Team
Technical Program Manager (OS/Hardware Flighting & Hardware Readiness)

Hi, everyone! Wynn here. After a short break, we’re back with another Xbox Insider Team interview. Today we’re chatting with Donovan—a Technical Program Manager who primarily works with the OS and Hardware Flighting sector. How’s it going Donovan?

Going well! Glad to have the time to sit down and chat.

Absolutely man. To begin, let’s tell the readers at home a little about yourself.

Cool cool. So, I was born and raised in Houston, Texas but I moved to Seattle back in 1999, so I’ve been here 24 years now.

There’s a county back in Georgia spelled like “Houston” but they pronounce it “House-ton”, which always confused me as a kid.

Yeah, and some Houstonian’s will even say, “You-ston” as well, so it’s really dealer’s choice.

You got to Seattle in ’99, so are you another Microsoft near-lifer like Dean? [Note for Readers: Dean is another member of the team.]

Oh, no. I only started here back in 2017. Before that I was doing property management for multi-family housing.

Wow, that’s quite the career shift! What made you decide to make the change?

I’ve always been really big into technology, especially building computers. So, an opportunity presented itself to interview for this team and I knew I had to go for it.

Oh cool! You started directly on this team?

Yeah. I remember I had been out on Lake Chelan the week before the interview, and I got sunburned. I was hoping that it would tan over before I had to go in. Well, of course, it didn’t. I walked into the interview room with Brad and Leland, and I remember thinking how silly I looked with a peeling forehead.

Well, they obviously didn’t mind!

No, the interview actually went really well; all things considered. The maybe slightly more embarrassing thing is that shortly after the interview I ended up going to Coachella and getting burnt again. Which ended up still being visible when I took my original employee photo.

Oh man. Those last almost as long as a driver’s license.

Haha. Exactly! Luckily, it wasn’t too visible, but it was definitely there for several years.

I had something similar happen on an old license in high school. They said my hair was obscuring my face, so they made me put it up. But I didn’t have a hair tie, so they gave me a scrunchie and I had to just throw it up. It looked awful.

Okay, so it’s 2017, and you’re here on the Xbox Insider Team. What happens next?

I was mostly working with Jon with regard to collecting feedback from all of the Xbox Insiders and surfacing that to our engineering team. I also partnered with Austin to optimize the survey / reporting experiences all up.

I did that for around three years before I was offered a position on the Customer Support team. So, I transferred over there and worked on Xbox Support for a while. After the pandemic—and through an org shift—I actually ended up back on the Xbox Insider team. Now, I support hardware readiness on devices and accessories for both first- and third-party teams. We also collect tons of data to help with engineering.

Wow! You must have come over with Crews then? [Note for Readers: Crews is another member of the team.]

Yeah, we moved over together as part of that shift.

Sweet deal. Well, can you tell us anything about what you’re working on currently?

Definitely! Right now, I’m [REDACTED].

Oh. Oh, I can’t say any of that can I?

Haha. Sorry, I set you up a little. Unfortunately, the nature of what I work on means I can’t really talk about much publicly. I can’t even tell most of the team half of what I’m doing.

Ah, that’s why your calendar had all those “Top Secret” meetings today.

Something like that.

All right. Well, for the things that you do have clearance to discuss. What’s been your favorite thing you’ve worked on for XIP?

Oh, hands down it was the Project Scorpio launch. That was just such an exciting time, and it’s easily been the most fun I’ve had at Microsoft so far.

I still remember getting my Project Scorpio Edition in retail stores. That was a fun launch.

Let’s move into the rapid-fire questions. Do you have a game that’s really impacted you over the years?

I’ve got a couple of more “artsy / indie” picks. I really love Firewatch and LIMBO. Kind of different games, but both of their atmospheres just really sucked me in. Then, for something a little more recent, I just can’t put down Apex Legends. It’s so good.

I played a good amount of Apex when it first launched, but I ended up going back to my one true love Fornite.

I like the first-person and movement aspects better, so that’s why I stuck with it.

All right. Do you have an all-time favorite song or album?

Hmm. 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago is definitely my favorite song, off their Chicago II album.

Great track. The guitar solo rips.

Yeah, Hendrix even said in interviews that he thought Chicago’s guitarist at the time was the best in the world.

I should check more of them out. I don’t go too far back into that era often.

Okay, any comfort show that you can just put on for background noise?

South Park. Doesn’t matter what season, I could have any episode on and enjoy it.

What about outside of the world of entertainment? Any interests or hobbies?

I absolutely love the outdoors. Being in nature, camping, I can’t get enough. I’m also an avid snowboarder.

You and Tyler should shred some time then. Though, it does occur to me that if you had stayed in Houston, you might never have found snowboarding.

Ha. Funny how life works out that way, huh?

Truly. Well, I see we’re coming up on time. Any final thoughts for our Community?

Just that I’ve always really enjoyed working to make sure that all Xbox Insiders have a voice here, and that I really thank everyone who has submitted feedback over the years. I’ve definitely read a ton of it and it’s so important to our business.

Beautifully said. Thanks so much for stopping by Donovan.

The pleasure was mine!

Xbox Insiders, be sure to be on the lookout for more content all throughout February including more interviews from the team, a trip down memory lane, and so much more. All of our 10th Anniversary content can be found on our Hub Page.

Until next time! Wy\nn/