Computer Scientist and Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research and Incubations

Dr. Peter Lee is a computer scientist and corporate vice president at Microsoft Research. He leads a global research organization tasked with creating new research-powered technologies and products for Microsoft. Dr. Lee previously headed Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science department and founded a computing division at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


If you could go back in time and give yourself career advice, what would you say?

The career advice I would give is summed up well by the author Stephen Covey: “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” Empathy enables you to engage with others with more attention, care, authenticity, and effectiveness. It turns you into a storyteller instead of a lecturer and an inspiring team member instead of simply a manager.

What inspires you in your work?

In a great research environment, there are days when I walk into the labs and I think I’m walking into the future; the ideas and inventions sometimes have that air of inevitability. The constant stream of bright students who come to learn and work also inspires me.

What would people close to you say are your best and worst qualities?

According to my wife, my best quality is that people tend to believe everything I say (and I’m not in politics). My worst quality is that people tend to believe everything I say (and I’m not in politics).

What's your secret vice?

I am a gambler. I am always happy when I can sneak away for some poker.

A headshot of Peter Lee, PhD