One of the unique aspects of the MSL Program is the wide variety of talents that MSL students bring to the table. From music to sports to art, the MSL student body is a very talented group!
Case in point: Part-time MSL student Neil Misak, a Microsoft employee, happens to be a very skilled DJ in his spare time; he was recently featured in a post on Linkedin entitled: “When you bring your passion to work… it never feels like work!” The piece highlights Neil’s passion for music and how he has showcased that passion by being a DJ at various work-related events, including at Microsoft’s 7,000-person Digital Transformation Academy in Las Vegas.
I recently sat down with Neil to discuss his experience in the MSL Program to-date and the impact the program has had on his work at Microsoft.
Nicole Schneider: What is your current role at Microsoft and how has your experience in the MSL Program impacted your career trajectory?
Neil Misak: “My current role is Surface Specialist at Microsoft, where I serve as sales lead for our largest K-12 and higher education customers in the Midwest. When I entered the MSL Program, I was in a technical specialist role. The MSL Program deepened my business and legal acumen and allowed me to pivot to a sales-specific role. In addition, the MSL Program has empowered me as an entrepreneur – I’ve created two new businesses and a non-profit. The ability to craft my own operating agreements and contracts, and to interact with stakeholders from various industries is imperative as an entrepreneur. One of my start-up endeavors is actually my DJ business, where I’m known as DJ Neil Nebula. I aspire to be a cross-functional leader, and the MSL program has provided me with the knowledge and skills to break down boundaries between technical, business and legal stakeholders.”
Nicole Schneider: How are you utilizing what you’ve learned in the MSL Program in your day-to-day work at Microsoft?
Neil Misak: “I interact with a variety of stakeholders on a daily basis, ranging from C-level executives to frontline support engineers. Understanding these individuals’ skillsets and vernacular allows me to maximize my impact in helping them adopt cutting edge technology from Microsoft. I also frequently review and respond to contracts; I gained a lot of practical knowledge from the MSL Contracts course.
Nicole Schneider: In what ways have you used the MSL that you didn’t expect to in your career?
Neil Misak: “I find the skills garnered in the MSL program to be applicable to so many passions I have outside of technology. I’ve partnered with restaurateurs to respond to COVID-19-related changes around food safety and 3rd party delivery services; – in so doing, I identified additional problems that I’m working to solve. I co-sponsored a fundraising event last winter to benefit mental health research; what I learned in the MSL program helped me turn my visions into reality. Beyond my personal endeavors, the knowledge I’ve gained from the MSL program has allowed me to help others. I partnered with a technical entrepreneur to help develop his HR and business development strategy. I assisted a scientist with formulating his intellectual property strategy before disclosing his invention to a large corporation. I look forward to leveraging my legal knowledge not only to pursue my own passions, but also to be a utility player for peers at Microsoft and in the start-up ecosystem.”
Nicole Schneider: What are you looking forward to most as you work to complete your MSL degree?
Neil Misak: “I look forward to deepening my knowledge in Intellectual Property, specifically within the software patent space. As I continue to explore solutions for the future of the education and food industries, the ability to research prior art and “stand on the shoulders of giants” to innovate is what drives me day in and out. I also hope to participate in an MSL trip focused on entrepreneurship either in Silicon Valley or internationally to broaden my network in the VC/start-up world.
Nicole Schneider: What is your favorite thing about the MSL Program?
Neil Misak: “The caliber of people that I’ve met is my favorite thing about the program. I’ve met more founders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the last two years as a part-time student than I could have ever imagined. The access to Northwestern Law’s top-notch faculty and impressive alumni is unparalleled. The students that I’m in class with are leaders in their respective industries, and the cross-pollination of knowledge has opened my mind to new problems and a more robust understanding of the business landscape across technology, health, sustainability, and more. The MSL Program has also already equipped me with the right knowledge to transition from a technical to business role at Microsoft!”
Nicole Schneider: What advice would you give to students considering the Part-Time MSL Program?
Neil Misak: “Balancing a full time job and course work is difficult, but learning meaningful material on nights and weekends that you can then turn around and apply directly to your career is an unparalleled experience. Being a part of the Northwestern Law community opens up so many doors within your existing and surrounding organizations. If you are an entrepreneur or aspire to become one, the MSL will provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge to start and grow your business.”
To listen to Neil’s musical creations, check out his SoundCloud page.