Sporting skills sharpen marketing

Sporting skills sharpen marketing

Danica Aitken, Microsoft’s product marketing manager at the entertainment and devices division, is possibly the only person at the company able to do a one-armed push-up.

The part-time gymnast started in the Microsoft role about five months ago, after stints in the telecommunications industry and property marketing.

Growing up in Auckland, Aitken is a triplet with identical sisters. She competed in every sport available and wanted to be a doctor at a young age. She did two degrees at university in law and commerce and was a competitor at the Aerobics World Championships with her triplet sisters.

“My biggest passion is travel. I started travelling at age 12 through gymnastics. Now I’ve been to around 30 countries around the world through sport and work. The three of us really got into sport at Epsom Girls [Grammar]. We danced for about 18 years, and did sport aerobics for 12 years; the sport we competed in as a team and went to the world champs.”

Aitken’s competitive nature led her to complete the degrees, simply because one of her sisters did. While studying, she discovered a passion for marketing.

“I went to university with my two sisters and we’re very competitive. One of my sisters did two degrees so we all had to do it. At the time I also wanted to be a lawyer, because I was very interested in human rights. I went to a few

court cases and, unfortunately, found out that being a great lawyer was not about justice or being a good person. I could never represent someone I knew was guilty of a crime.

“I ended up in marketing after starting with Vodafone at its call centre in 2000. I started working more closely with the marketing team, and met some people that made me decide that marketing was what I wanted to do, and I really enjoyed working with the technology side of things. I went to Telecom for a while, before working in property for two years.” Aitken cut her teeth in the marketing trade at Bayleys Real Estate, as the company’s marketing manager for commercial and corporate property.

“Bayleys is really where I learned about the power of marketing and the power surrounding brands. I ended up with Microsoft after I heard about the job through someone at the entertainment team. I moved into a slightly different role than what I was with at Baileys, but it was really exciting to get back into the technology sector.

“The great thing about working here is there are so many role models to look up to. The standard of the people here is very

high. Microsoft is also inherently trying to do good things for the world. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is just one example, and I wouldn’t mind one day working there. I really think that kind of work is fantastic.”

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