New Microsoft advertising exec moves from marketing snacks to Office products

Following the appointment of Satya Nadella as its new CEO in 2014, Microsoft has been shifting its focus from Windows to reinvent itself as a "mobile-first, cloud first" company. Office and its productivity solutions have since become some of the most essential assets of the company, and back at Build 2016 Microsoft shared that its productivity suite today claimed the largest commercial user base with 1.2 billion Office users around the world, with 340M downloads of Office Mobile apps so far.

The Office productivity suite today has the largest commercial user base.
The Office productivity suite today has the largest commercial user base.

But as Microsoft wants to keep the momentum around its portfolio of productivity apps, the company has recently hired Eliza Esquivel, a high-profile advertising exec as the new Senior Director of Brand Strategy, Management and Naming for Office Marketing. Prior to her current job at Microsoft, Esquivel was VP Global Brand Strategy at Mondelēz International where she nurtured their $36 billion portfolio of high-growth global brands (Oreo and Cadbury among others), and before that she held several agency positions at TBWA/CHIAT/DAY NEW YORK, among others. In 2015, Esquivel was also named #6 on Business Insider’s list of the 30 Most Creative Women in Advertising and she is also a Board Director for The Advertising Club of New York since 2014.

Today, Microsoft has published a lengthy profile of its new executive on its Jobs Blog and we are sharing the most interesting bits with you below:

How Esquivel came to work in advertising

Esquivel initially thought that she’d be a writer and later, a literary critic, though one of her mentors suggested she could do well in advertising. This led her to earn an MA in Communication from the University of Texas at Austin where she wrote cultural theory about advertising. She has since been fascinated by the history of the discipline which she calls “the most sophisticated form of communication”:

If you go back into the history of communication theory and persuasion, you’ll see that there’s a lot of power and a lot of money spent trying to understand how you motivate human beings for larger causes. It’s a very powerful form of communication. We spend a lot of time figuring out how it is that we can say something that will get somebody to take an action.

Matt Donovan, general manager of the Microsoft Office Brand, Studio, Web and Social team first met Esquivel last year while she was still Vice President of Global Brand Strategy at Mondelēz International (formerly Kraft Foods) and he quickly remarked that she would be a good fit in Redmond:

I thought she had a lot of positive energy and a great understanding of brands and the challenges that they face in today’s world. We had a lot of good discussion about how global brands can really thrive — and that’s something that’s obviously at the heart of Office, as a truly global brand.

He added that as Microsoft’s dedication to creating what customers want and need “is all about having insights, so that we can make sure what we build connects with them, I think Eliza has a really strong skillset in that area.”

Esquivel on the Microsoft Redmond, WA campus.
Esquivel on the Microsoft Redmond, WA campus.

Why Esquivel wanted to work for Microsoft

Esquivel has an interesting technology background: she used to play on her family’s TRS-80 computer, and she also spent a summer at coding camp when she was in grade school. Back then, she focused her science fair project on trying to prove that computers help people learn. She also loves science and explained that her new job at Microsoft will allow her to use her creativity to make an impact in technology:

I’ve always wanted to work in technology, and I am obsessed with the future. In this day and age, there’s a real sense that a lot of where the creativity is happening is in the technology space.

As she was previously living in New York City, she was impressed by the “gorgeous” Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, and by the kindness and efficiency of her future colleagues:

People are very respectful of one another and everyone’s voice is heard, yet people don’t sit around talking about things all the time, they take action. There’s a really nice combination of democracy and dynamism at play.

She added that she was also very interested in the career mobility opportunities at Microsoft, explaining that "you’re never going to stop growing, you can switch topics and explore new avenues over the years, and that’s really encouraged within the organization.” Lastly, she thinks now is the ideal time to join a company that is currently full of energy and ready to take big bets:

Honestly, I’m so thrilled to be here, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier coming into a new job. It’s so exciting what’s happening in this company, and I’m delighted to be a part of it.

Esquivel on the Microsoft Redmond, WA campus.
Esquivel on the Microsoft Redmond, WA campus.

What Esquivel plans to do at Microsoft

As senior director of brand, strategy, and naming in Office marketing, Esquivel and her senior team of strategists will focus on telling the story of strong Microsoft brands such as Office 365, Skype, and Outlook and explain to consumers the indispensable role the tools can play in their lives. But while Esquivel is a highly-skilled advertising professionnal, she also explained that her interest in pop culture and her ability to connect with millenials really helped to have a successul career.

“Somewhere deep inside me is a 16-year-old girl,” she confessed, but she thinks that her deep knowledge of consumers and understanding of culture will "have a really profound impact" at Microsoft. According to her, the company is indeed very receptive to all the very different ideas about marketing and communication that she brings to the table:

“From day one I’ve been encouraged to share my unique perspective, even if it runs contrary to what may appear to be Microsoft convention,” she says. At the same time, I’m also being encouraged to take my time to learn about the people and resources within the organization. The freedom to be curious here has been very inspiring.”

Do you think Esquivel will be able to help Microsoft to better market its portfolio of productivity apps? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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