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Alumnus’ can-do attitude leads him to head of marketing for Microsoft’s education division

Oct 18, 2017
by Bobbie Stewart

Flagler grad Patrick Perkins, ‘02, is heading up Microsoft’s marketing efforts in the company’s Education division, and his rise in the Fortune 500 company is in no small part due to two core principles he’s practiced since college: work hard and trust your instincts.

At Flagler, the Sport Management major from Seattle excelled academically, even as he reveled in the joys of going to the beach and hanging out with friends. His work ethic and focus on the big picture earned him the Department Award during his senior year and he graduated with honors.

At that point, his future was unclear, though he did sense the need for a graduate degree. Three years later, with a law degree in hand from Seattle University School of Law, he became a sports agent, representing baseball players from around the world. He liked the work, but realized he wanted to interact more with people one-on-one. A big company, he thought — something part of a larger system — would allow him to grow professionally and with others.

“I told myself, ‘If I can get my foot in the door, I feel confident in proving my worth,” Perkins said. He did get his foot in the door — as a glorified shelf stocker with Microsoft. “I said then, ‘I’m going to be the best shelf stocker they’ve ever seen.’”

His supervisors noticed, and so did others at Amazon. In 2007, the online retailer was looking for a marketing associate to help launch a then-unknown product called the Kindle. Its forecast called for 50,000 sales. By the time sales hit 500,000, Perkins and his team were asked to “stop generating demand.”

But by that point, he had already made a name for himself. His previous employer Microsoft lured him back and since then, he has taken on five different roles for the company — mostly marketing various products, from Microsoft hardware, Xbox, accessories and the like. Now, as director of marketing in the company’s Education division, he promotes Microsoft’s products — such as Windows, Surface, Xbox, LinkedIn and Microsoft Office — to educational organizations globally.

The out-of-the-box thinking that a Flagler education helped cultivate set him apart, he said.

“What I liked about Flagler — surrounding yourself with a small group of smart people to grow with — is sort of parallel to my experience at Microsoft,” he said. “I work on teams, with talented people and we collaborate together on projects. Flagler has meant a lot to me in helping me get to where I am today.”

As to future prospects, Perkins is happy to grow with a company that provides him with ample resources to thrive.

“Every year, the company asks its employees to rate their perception of this statement:  Microsoft gives me a good deal,” he said. “It’s nebulous and vague, but they care what you think. They give you so many resources to do what you need to do to grow there.”

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