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Scott Allen - From marketing degree to Microsoft Director

BU graduate, Scott Allen’s career journey is testament to the value of thoughtful planning and a clear focus.

Having completed a degree in leisure marketing - alongside a diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing - in 1995, he set out to build a career in the technology sector. Today he is Global Marketing Development & Strategy Director for Microsoft, a company he joined in 2014 as Enterprise Marketing Director before serving as UK CMO along the way. The role is part of the HQ team that is leading the global marketing transformation of Microsoft’s large and fast-growing commercial businesses including AI, Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics and Windows.

Scott’s career in the digital sector began in telecoms and tracked the development of mobile phone technology during the late nineties and early noughties. He said: “It was an exciting time to be working in field. Phone technology was moving from analogue to digital and I joined a company manufacturing SIM cards which became central to powering the networks and devices we know today. Having joined the company as a graduate, an opportunity arose to become Head of Marketing covering not just the UK but also South Africa, India, the Middle East and Australia. The Managing Director took a chance on me and it was the first time I realised that it pays to push yourself outside your comfort zone. It was a steep learning curve but set me up well for my next steps.”

The new role gave Scott the opportunity to travel and understand how marketing strategies needed to adapt to speak to customers from other countries and cultures. From there he took up a Global Head of Marketing role for a start-up, before taking on his first Global Marketing Director role with SurfKitchen, which specialised in WAP-enabled phone technology. Having taken on senior roles at a number of small and medium-sized enterprises, Scott decided the time was right to make the move to a large organisation joining LogicaCMG and then Colt Technology. This is where he developed marketing experience focused on Cloud technology and that provided him with an opportunity to join the team at Microsoft. He said: “Starting with the move to LogicaCMG it was very much a case of moving from being the most senior marketer in a small organisation, to a more focused global marketing role in a much bigger organisation. But I felt it was the right next step for me and it has continued to provide me with opportunities to learn, grow and develop in such a rapidly changing industry.”

Throughout his career, Scott has been intentional about the choices he has made, spurred on by support from mentors and his peers. He said: “From the outset, I chose the degree because it had a clear business focus and I valued the opportunity to complete a professional marketing qualification alongside. I was also clear that technology was the industry for me. I love the pace and seeing the impact it makes on the way people and businesses connect to achieve more. My advice to others at the start of their careers is to think carefully about the sector that excites you. You can so easily fall into something because you take the first opportunity that presents itself, but ultimately you want to be fired up about what you do and use your passion to lead a fulfilling career.

“I have been fortunate along the way to benefit from the advice and experience of others. Early on I sought out a mentor - in fact I tend to work with two mentors who perform different roles; one from outside of my sector and one from within it who understands the specific challenges. This approach has been pivotal in helping me to evaluate my career and spur me onto the next phase.”

After a year when products such as Microsoft Teams have become pivotal for so many people and businesses, Scott is hoping that the easing of pandemic restrictions will lead to a hybrid working approach. He said: “We have all seen, in a short space of time, how technology can keep us connected and enable us to work collaboratively. I am well used to working remotely and video calling colleagues around the world, but I am also looking forward to being able to head back into the office to connect with team mates face to face and having an impromptu white board brainstorm. There is still a lot to be said for that.”