Andrew's Dynamic Career with Microsoft

Andrew Pickup (Management Science - Marketing, 1986, Grizedale) talks about his dynamic career working for Microsoft for 25 years.

1. What made you choose Lancaster University for your degree?

I was interested in pursuing Marketing as a career and at that time – we are talking about the early ‘80’s here - there were, I believe, only two UK universities that offered that subject as an undergraduate degree. One was Stirling; the other, Lancaster. Lancaster was closer to home and, believe it or not, warmer in the Winter.
2. What is your fondest memory of your time here?

The friends I made there, several of which I am still in contact with, over 30 years later. I also met my wife whilst at Lancaster, so my time there ultimately produced the most important and significant achievement of my life - my family. 
3. What was the most valuable part of your student experience?
Being away from home for the first time and interacting with a more diverse group of people opened my eyes to the potential for broader life and career opportunities. 
4. Who or what particularly inspired you when you were here and why?

Stuart Riley taught at Lancaster for nearly 30 years and was my tutor on the Lancaster marketing undergraduate course. Stuart specialised in market research/insights and had an uncanny ability to make complex ideas simple and accessible, so that everyone could be involved. Something that I still try to achieve myself today – at home and work - although not always as successfully as Stuart did!
5. Do you keep in touch with other alumni since you graduated?
If so, have you been back to visit at all?
Well, I see one of the alumni (my wife, Elizabeth) every day. Beyond that, I have 2-3 friends that graduated at the same time, who I maintain contact with despite having lived in Asia for the last 14 years. On that subject, I have also met other Lancaster graduates through the thriving Singapore alumni network and actually made the commencement speech at the Singapore MBA graduate ceremony a couple of years ago. I visited Bailrigg a few times, immediately after graduation, but not for over 20 years now. That said, I would love to visit again, perhaps with my children, it is a special place with many very fond memories.
6. Is there anything you particularly miss about student life?

The ability to drink 8 pints of lager during an evening and, remarkably, have the energy to attend lectures the next day. This capability is wasted on the young and, I can confirm, diminishes over time.
7. How did your career progress?

I graduated from Lancaster in 1986 and my first job was working in the Marketing Department of Financial Services Group, Royal Life in Peterborough. After 2 years there, I moved to London to be an Account Director at Saatchi & Saatchi, at that time the largest advertising agency in the world. After 3 years there, I moved to my current employer, Microsoft. I spent 11 years in various marketing roles within Microsoft UK, before transferring to Asia to become the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Microsoft Singapore, our local subsidiary there. I then served as CMO for the Asia Pacific region for 5 years before undertaking my current role, leading Corporate Communications for Asia, which includes Japan, India, Greater China and Asia-Pacific. 
8. What do you enjoy the most in your work?

In a month’s time, I will celebrate 25 years with Microsoft. One of the reasons that I have stayed at the company for that length of time has been the sheer diversity of work (and roles) that my career has afforded me. The technology sector is an industry that is dynamic - always challenging, always surprising, always pushing the limits of human potential; that is truly exciting, and no two days are ever really alike.
9. What has been your greatest achievement so far (in any aspect of your life?)

Without doubt, my two daughters Annie (16) and Emily (13). With Annie now two years away from, hopefully, going to university herself, it feels like the circle is being completed, somehow.
10. What advice would you give to today’s students?

Find something you love doing and follow your passion. Work and career will take up a significant part of your life, that’s for sure; so find something that you are truly passionate about and, if you can, do that for your career. Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.