Sherlaender Phillips: Fueling a Passion for Technology from an Early Age to Leading Digital Transformation


There’s an undeniable power in discovering your passions early in life, and sometimes, those passions have a way of finding you. In the remarkable journey of Sherlaender Phillips, known as Lani, Vice President of the US Channel Sales Organization at Microsoft, her lifelong love for technology was nurtured from a young age.

Lani’s journey into the world of technology began as a gift from her parents. They had the foresight to invest in the realm of technology, unwittingly setting the stage for their daughter’s future. The exposure to cutting-edge gadgets and the digital world ignited a spark within her, making technology more than just a fascination – it became a passion.

This early fascination with technology wasn’t just a passing phase. It evolved into a deep-seated interest that drove Lani to pursue academic excellence in the field. Her academic journey became a vessel through which she could explore the boundless possibilities that technology offered. It was a path she embarked on with unwavering determination.

Lani’s professional journey was a natural extension of her academic pursuits. Armed with her passion and expertise, she ventured into the world of technology, eager to make her mark. Her career has been marked by significant achievements, each contributing to her extensive knowledge and experience in the field.

As the Vice President, Lani holds a key role in shaping the digital landscape. Her expertise lies in the domain of digital transformation, a concept that has become more crucial than ever. She recognizes that every company has faced the imperative to accelerate its digital transformation agenda over the past year.

Lani’s leadership at Microsoft isn’t just about overseeing operations; it’s about steering the course of digital transformation. Her insights and guidance are instrumental in helping organizations navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape. Her vision extends beyond technology; it’s about empowering companies to thrive in the digital age.

In her journey, Lani doesn’t just embrace technology; she embodies the spirit of innovation and resilience. She stands as an inspiration for generations to come, showing that passion, determination, and a love for what you do can pave the way to success.

Join us as we explore her inspiring path from a childhood enriched by technology to leading Microsoft in shaping the future of the digital world!

The Path to Becoming a CEO: Navigating Challenges

The dream of becoming a CEO is something many aspire to, but is it an achievable goal for everyone? The journey is often complex, marked by the need to continually prove oneself, and it’s further complicated by the harsh realities of gender and racial disparities. These challenges can make individuals feel the need to armor up and hide their vulnerabilities.

Lani, sharing her own experiences, reveals the hurdles she faced in her pursuit of leadership. She encountered a scarcity of mentors who could offer transparent and valuable guidance. Despite these obstacles, she remained determined not to retreat into the shadows.

Early in her career, she grappled with issues of confidence and courage, leading her to second-guess her decisions and strive for perfection, which in turn slowed her progress. To overcome these personal barriers, she took proactive steps. Lani sought support within her organization’s employee resource groups, connecting with like-minded individuals who could help her navigate challenges.

Furthermore, she tapped into professional organizations with diverse networks in the tech industry, such as BDPA, ITSMF, and WIT. She attributes some of her success to these networks, where she found people willing to help her create a personal blueprint for navigating the corporate landscape and overcoming situational obstacles.

In essence, Lani’s journey highlights the importance of seeking support and mentorship, especially in the face of adversity, and leveraging professional networks to chart a course toward leadership roles, even when the path seems daunting.

The Cloud Computing Revolution

The rapid growth and evolving landscape of cloud computing are shaping the future of innovation. It’s not just about how computing is done; it’s increasingly about where it takes place. This revolution is driving fierce competition among cloud providers, each vying for a larger slice of the market.

To stay well-informed and gain insights into market trends and predictions, a valuable approach is to explore online technological and business resources. Platforms like VentureBeat, Wired, CNET, and Forbes Tech offer a wealth of information on the subject.

Lani highlights another crucial source of knowledge: listening to the voices of potential end-users and partners. These individuals are at the forefront, directly encountering challenges and evaluating solutions. Their feedback and experiences provide valuable insights into industry advancements and hurdles.

In essence, staying informed in the era of cloud computing requires a multi-faceted approach, combining insights from industry publications with the real-world perspectives of those engaged in the technology’s day-to-day use and implementation.

Fostering Leaders in the Era of Digitization and Cloud Computing

In the realm of leadership, the primary goal is not just to cultivate followers but to nurture a cadre of leaders. Lani sheds light on the evolving landscape of digitization and cloud computing, emphasizing a critical shift – the growing emphasis on prioritizing the employee experience. Recognizing that employees are the lifeblood of organizations, their satisfaction and engagement are paramount to preventing an organization from fading into obscurity.

Lani notes that organizations are increasingly embracing a hybrid work culture, charting a course toward the future of work. These changes are shaping the landscape of digitization and cloud computing. Moreover, she underscores the pervasive influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our lives. To harness the potential of AI, it is imperative to infuse it with human values and trust.

Microsoft’s mission, as highlighted by Lani, is to “Empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.” This commitment drives the development of innovative solutions aimed at empowering individuals and organizations in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Navigating the Technological Landscape: A Vision for Tomorrow

In the ever-evolving technological landscape, Lani sheds light on three key focus areas: 

  • Consumerism in Healthcare: Drawing insights from the transformative impact of the pandemic, Lani envisions the integration of technology to empower individuals in actively managing their healthcare. This proactive approach aims to enhance personal health management, leveraging technological solutions.


  • Employee Experience Platform: Lani expresses enthusiasm for Microsoft’s “Employee Experience Platform,” an innovative initiative that brings together engagement, well-being, learning, and knowledge transfer into a cohesive and integrated experience. This platform is designed to support leaders, teams, and employees in their collective journey.


  • Technology for Good: In a world marked by technological advancements and the growing presence of Artificial Intelligence, Lani emphasizes the importance of addressing diversity and bias. She advocates for the removal of bias from algorithms and the infusion of human values into technology solutions, aligning with the belief that technology should serve the greater good.

These focus areas reflect a forward-looking vision for the technological industry, one that prioritizes the well-being of individuals, the empowerment of employees, and the ethical use of technology for the betterment of society.

Leadership in the Post-pandemic World

In the wake of the pandemic’s transformative impact on organizations, leadership takes on a new dimension. Lani underscores the role of a leader as one who not only charts the course but also illuminates the path for others to follow and envision. The pandemic, which reshaped the functioning of organizations, led to the emergence of sustainable alternatives for work. However, it also brought about a range of mixed emotions, from the absence of personal interactions to the challenges of teamwork and collaboration.

Lani shares valuable insight into maintaining motivation amid such challenges:

Empowerment and Self-Value: Lani emphasizes the importance of not undervaluing oneself and promoting empowerment. She believes that this mindset is crucial for both leaders and employees, serving as a source of motivation.

During the pandemic, she employed several methodologies to foster motivation: 

  • Regular Check-Ins: Encouraging employees to identify and express their emotions through two words allows for meaningful communication and understanding of their experiences.


  • Quarterly Fun Activities: Organizing virtual events focused on fun and enjoyment, such as games, creative workshops, happy hours, and themed gatherings.


  • Learning Circles: Prioritizing professional development through learning circles and investing in employees’ skills to foster continuous learning.

 In conclusion, Lani shares her optimism about Microsoft’s future, highlighting their commitment to reimagining the employee experience. Microsoft aims to leverage its extensive expertise in people analytics, culture, community building, knowledge sharing, learning, and teamwork to provide innovative solutions that benefit its customers.