Fargo, N.D. (May 10, 2004) -- Jodi Uecker-Rust, a top official at Microsoft Business Solutions, has resigned her post, ending a 20-year career with MBS and its predecessor, Great Plains Software.

Michael Olsen, senior director of corporate communications, also resigned after nine years with the operation.

Microsoft says the departures are unrelated and reflect Uecker-Rust’s decision to spend more time with her young family, while Olsen plans to develop a communications consulting business. Both came to MBS as executives of Great Plains, which was purchased by Microsoft in April 2001.

Some resellers say they weren’t surprised. “Quite honestly, from my point of view, all upper management and leadership has been missing in action since the year before the Microsoft acquisition,” said one privately. “ I have also heard this sentiment come from many MBS people.”

Still, Uecker-Rust's departure was a shock to the industry. She was a key advisor to MBS president Doug Burgum, holding positions that included vice president of employee services and vice president of operations, and finally was chief operating officer at Great Plains when it was purchased. Her final title at MBS was Microsoft corporate vice president. Her biography on Microsoft’s Web site says she took the operational lead in Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision. She spent 18 months in England working with that acquisition.

Olsen came to Great Plains in September 1995 and eventually served as group vice president, corporation communications. Olsen says he will remain at MBS through July and is “excited about the possibilities.”

Many observers have been expecting some changes as MBS reported 4 percent sales growth for its March quarter and Microsoft is expecting flat sales for the June quarter, its year-end. Although Microsoft says results were in line with expectations, chief financial officer John Connors told financial analysts that the division failed to perform in the United States in the March quarter.

Says one MBS reseller, “The real question now is ‘how much worse is it going to get before it starts to get better and how long will it take before Microsoft finds someone that can figure out how to fix it?’”

-- Bob Scott

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