Mike Bassani: Expert in Leading and Managing Large Teams of Software Engineers and Product Directors

Top 10 Most Influential People in Supply Chain, 2023

With a fervent passion for creating products that resonate with customers, Mike Bassani is on a mission to build software that people genuinely love to use. He is the visionary General Manager and Partner in Charge of Supply Chain at Microsoft.

As a seasoned leader, Mike has successfully led a vast team of software engineers and product directors in the supply chain software domain, driving innovation and shaping the industry’s future. His illustrious career spans various disciplines, including operations, supply, tech, and finance, and he has garnered extensive experience in management and leadership roles which led him to be considered for this list. Mike believes that success is multifaceted and should be evaluated against a predetermined set of objectives over a period of time. However, he also stresses the importance of considering success as a personal evolution and how one’s accomplishments contribute to others. Mike believes that success is a journey, and it’s crucial to enjoy the process and learn from the challenges along the way.

Joining Supply Chain

Mike was born in Vancouver, Canada. Over the course of his 20-year career, he has had the privilege of working for some incredible companies, such as Best Buy, Nike, Amazon, Convoy, and currently, Microsoft. Each organization had a distinct culture, and he learned valuable lessons from each one. We asked him about the supply chain aspect of Microsoft:  Microsoft is known as a longstanding innovative technology company, but until recently we haven’t spoken about our role in supply chain technology, or as a global supply chain leader. When you consider the Cloud business, the Devices business, and our real estate footprint, there is a robust supply chain in action. This is a real competitive differentiator when building supply chain technology. We don’t have to go far to bounce ideas off teams and people who manage the different facets of our supply chain to see how our tech is performing, or ways to improve the user experience. We are also very partner friendly, which means we focus on how we can democratize our solutions and work with other companies in the space. This openness is often a major differentiator for our customers.

Mike also attributes much of his success and curiosity to Penn State, where he obtained his master’s degree focused in supply chain. He looks back on the doors that his degree opened for him and feels grateful that he made the decision to forego two years of salary to gain that invaluable experience.

Focus on Constant Learning

Mike’s life experiences have taught him the value of embracing a mindset that fosters learning, empathy, and confidence in overcoming adversity. He has faced several roadblocks, from immigrating to the U.S. to changing organizations during the pandemic and has learned valuable lessons from each challenge.

One particular roadblock that left a lasting impression on Mike was during a prolonged document review process for a new initiative that he was working on to secure funding. One of the stakeholders involved in the proposal kept providing feedback even after multiple revisions, leaving Mike unsure if they were truly supportive of the initiative. However, Mike later realized that this stakeholder was one of the most invested individuals, and their critical feedback was a reflection of their dedication to the quality of the proposal. They wanted to be completely informed and capable of advocating for the proposal, whether Mike was present or not.

Through this experience, Mike learned the importance of writing clear and effective documents while also engaging stakeholders in the process. He evangelizes the value of constructive criticism and actively seeks out dissenting opinions to ensure that he is receiving robust feedback. This experience has taught Mike to value engagement and to be open to all types of feedback, positive or negative, in order to continually improve and grow.

Mike’s a firm believer in the impact artificial intelligence (AI) will have on operations:

Supply chains have traditionally been laggards with emerging tech and the adoption of artificial intelligence has only accelerated over the past decade. With the new approachable models of large language models, as well as computer vision, a new foundation is being poured for the world class supply chains of the futures. Tasks that were previously ‘too ambiguous’ for AI are not being re-evaluated. This phenomenon is leading to substantial upskilling and more data-informed decisions, with better outcomes for customers and our planet.

Collaborating with Professionals and Engaging in Change

Working at Microsoft, Mike has observed the company’s reputation for innovation and pioneering technology. However, it was only recently that the company began to amplify its position as a global supply chain leader and recognize its contributions to the supply chain technology industry.

Thanks to Microsoft’s cloud business, devices business, and significant real estate footprint, its supply chain operations are well rooted. This gives the company a considerable advantage when it comes to developing supply chain technology. Mike considers himself fortunate to have easy access to the teams and individuals managing various aspects of Microsoft’s supply chain, allowing him to gather feedback and ideas on how to improve their technology and user experience to make the commercial products more robust.

Nevertheless, being a part of Microsoft also means being able to handle skepticism, particularly when it comes to launching new domain-specific products. Despite the company’s success with Office, Outlook, and Windows, introducing new products in a specific domain can be challenging. Still, Mike believes that leveraging his professional experience and ‘grit’ has provided him with the necessary perspective to overcome obstacles that arise and continue to drive progress forward.

Pandemic Effect in Supply Chain Industry

According to Mike, the supply chain industry faced several challenges before the pandemic, and many of these challenges will persist for many years to come. Moving goods quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively remains a difficult task, as it is a NP-hard problem. With Chief Supply Chain Officers, or COOs, Mike emphasizes the importance of system and people preparedness to tackle capacity-related issues. The goal is to be proactive and get ahead of problems, but if that’s not possible, it’s crucial to adjust the mix and avoid a significant impact on the balance sheet. That’s why Microsoft launched the Supply Chain Center in November, taking a modular approach to its solutions and reducing the entry barrier for companies that previously found updates out of reach or too expensive. There are so many problems that don’t require a whole digital transformation and be solved in a bite-sized way. He feels one of his superpowers in supply chain is helping organizations take the first steps so that are not frozen by existing technology or unclear on where to start.

Mike predicts that legislation will continue to evolve in the supply chain, specifically with a focus on supplier resilience and understanding the impact of moving goods on the global emissions footprint across multiple tiers.

Ways to Form Balance

Mike finds great support from his partner and their two children, who make up his incredible support system, especially since their respective families do not live in the U.S. This distance forces him and his family to prioritize the time they have with friends and family internationally, focusing on maintaining a strong bond, facilitated almost daily through technology. Mike doesn’t mind mixing his professional and personal lives, as he has developed close friendships with people, he met through business school or while working at companies such as Nike, Amazon, and Microsoft. His mentor, who encouraged him to move to the U.S. 15 years ago, is someone he speaks to frequently.

Mike cherishes his 1:1s and XLT meetings as those are where gets a pulse to the amazing work going on and shares the macro themes across MSFT and the domain. He dedicates calendar blocks for better international collaboration and has created a standing ‘Learning Friday” for his team to explore new themes and technology. Mike shared I am able to accomplish a lot through a world class team of Engineers, PMs ad Designers, and am supported by a fantastic Marketing and Sales motion. I’m able to do my best work because my direct leadership team, which is an amazing set of talented and diverse individuals, run their respective disciplines at a tremendous scale.

For Mike, having a competitive outlet is crucial. Whether it’s in sports or board games, competing provides a sense of satisfaction. He has learned that it’s important for him to find that sense of accomplishment in areas outside of work because it makes him a better husband, father and manager. It allows him to be more open-minded and flexible in discussions where he might have been otherwise stubborn.

Mike’s Success Mantra

“Success comes in many forms. Generally, I think it should be measured against a set of objectives, and generally over time. However, it’s also important to think about success as an evolution both from a personal perspective as well as how you are contributing to others. One of the mantras I try to underscore with my team is that ‘Standards are contagious, and it’s our job to keep them high’. As leaders, or individual contributors, if we can raise the bar across our teams and organization, it leads to success, which in turn leads to more personal gratification and ultimately commercial success.”- Mike.

Mike’s exceptional talents in P&L management and business strategy have earned him recognition as a top performer, leading multiple business lines with billions in revenue. He has led large, multi-level teams comprising both technical and non-technical personnel, with a primary focus on transportation for Middle and Last Mile Logistics.

With a keen eye for detail and a thorough understanding of various industries, Mike has provided operations oversight and design for consumables, hard goods, and long-lead product lines, with a special focus on eCommerce. He holds multiple U.S. patents and is a decorated conference speaker, cementing his position as a thought leader in the industry.

Fun Fact

One of the of pictures supplied in the article is 100% AI generated so it’s not actually Mike! Guess which one it is!