Meet Microsoft’s MBA Class of 2018

David Ellis


MBA Program: University of Michigan Ross School of Business

MBA Concentration: Marketing

Hometown: Wellesley, MA

Undergraduate School and Major: Middlebury College

Current Title at Microsoft: Product Marketing Manager, Cloud Marketing OnRamp Program

How would you describe your role to your mother? Currently, I am a Product Marketing Manager in the Cloud Marketing OnRamp program. The Cloud Marketing OnRamp program is specifically designed for MBAs who interned at Microsoft during business school and who have returned as a full-time employee. The OnRamp program lasts one year and consists of three rotations, four months each, in key areas of our cloud marketing business such as Product Marketing, Integrated Marketing, and Business Planning. In my first rotation on the Apps and Infrastructure product marketing team, I helped develop new messaging for microservices, an architectural style of building applications. In my second rotation on the Customer Success product marketing team, I worked on the Azure portal and mobile app by helping to drive awareness of the platform’s features and make improvements to the user experience. In my final rotation in the Global Demand Center, I am developing an Azure migration global engagement program to help reach potential customers who are interested in moving from on-premise computing to the cloud.

A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is…A fun fact about me is that I am an avid shark fisherman. I grew up fishing from the shores of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, catching Bluefish and Striped bass. Today, that passion has grown quite a bit!  Today, I venture 50 miles off the coast of Cape Cod to catch Mako sharks and Blue sharks that can weigh over 250 pounds.

What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment? My greatest personal achievement was being awarded a Volunteer Recognition Award by Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York. During my four years in New York City prior to business school, I was highly involved in helping BBBS of NYC to grow the number of African American mentors, both as the co-president of Bigs United, an affinity group of BBBS, and as a mentor of a 16-year-old teenager from the Bronx.

Why did you choose to work at MSFT? I chose to work at Microsoft because it is a company whose values and mission align closely with those of my own. I have never had the opportunity to work for a company whose leadership is so highly committed to culture as well as diversity and inclusion. Satya Nadella and Chris Capossela have been huge change agents for diversity and inclusion and it has been amazing to watch the improvements they have implemented across the company. For example, they recently implemented a company-wide policy that requires employees to commit to helping to create a more diverse and inclusive community as a part of our core priorities. This means that this is a factor that will be evaluated as a part of your annual bonus compensation. No other company I have worked for has tied its values around diversity and inclusion to compensation which is why I am extremely proud to be working at Microsoft.

What did you love about the business school you attended? The thing I loved the most about the Ross School of Business was by far the people. At Ross, there is a deep sense of school pride, collaboration, and passion for helping others. Prior to attending Ross, I remember connecting with students and alumni from all over the world about their experiences. All of them were quick to respond and extremely insightful as I made my final decision about where to attend business school. During my time at Ross, I developed strong friendships with my fellow classmates who pushed me to new heights. I owe my current role at Microsoft to my peers who helped me prepare for case competitions and interviews. Post-MBA, I have found the Ross alumni network to be outstanding. Even at Microsoft, I’ve found the network to be quite strong.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far at MSFT? The most valuable thing that I have learned so far at Microsoft has been how to effectively drive change in within such a large organization and with limited resources. During my time on the Azure Customer Success team, I was responsible for making improvements to the Azure portal. I took recent customer insights and helped to create a strategy to turn their insights into product improvements. To do this successfully, it required me to get input from a variety of stakeholders and drive alignment across teams.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at MSFT and how has he or she made you a better in your role? The manager who has had the biggest impact on me at Microsoft is my current manager, Jerry Lee. In addition to his responsibilities as a Cloud Marketing Business Manager, Jerry is managing all OnRampers at Microsoft. Jerry has been in many different roles at Microsoft and, as a result, is able to provide excellent constructive feedback. By taking his feedback and putting into action, I’ve been able to improve both my hard and soft skills in this role. I also appreciate how great Jerry is at helping others think through difficult problems. Whenever I am faced with a new and ambiguous project, I always enjoy getting Jerry’s input as he usually has experienced some aspect of it in the past. I feel extremely lucky to have Jerry as my manager as he is always looking to help others improve in their role.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for MSFT? The advice I would give to someone who wants to work at Microsoft is to think about our mission and the culture we are building and how they align with your values. Microsoft is an amazing company, but the employees are what make it such a great place to go to work every day. If you are someone who loves helping other people and organizations succeed through technology, then Microsoft might just be the place for you.

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