Personable Ballmer Leads College Extracurriculars, Microsoft

Courtesy OF Microsoft

Steve Ballmer ’77 is built like a linebacker yet possesses a shrill, energetic voice and can whip a football team into a frenzy before a game, or induce people rise from their seats and start shouting and dancing during the launch of a new operating system.

Dubbed the “world’s best corporate rallier,” by a biographer of Bill Gates ’77, it is no surprise that Gates selected his college friend to help run Microsoft.

Born To Run

Ballmer had already begun to prove himself a leader as an undergraduate.

At one point he was manager of the Harvard football team, publisher of The Advocate and advertising manager of The Crimson all at once.

“He was very motivated, very effective, and very, very focused,” says Paul L. Bixby ’77, then The Crimson’s business manager. “He was open, helpful, cooperative and great to work with.”

Bixby remembers fondly how Ballmer used to burst through the front door and start yelling that he closed out an account.

This positive impression of Ballmer seems to be shared by many of his co-workers.

Peter H. Alson ’77, a member of The Advocate staff at the same time as Ballmer, remembers that he and the rest of the staff had great respect for Ballmer.

“He was the perfect publisher,” says Alson.”He was great with money.”

Along with his effervescent personality and management skills, people say they remember Ballmer’s physical presence.

Karen M. Bromberg Firestone ’77, who worked with Ballmer on The Crimson, remembers how Ballmer’s physical presence dominated the business office.

“When you walked into The Crimson, he would often be standing in the entrance,” she says. “You would either have to walk into him or try and get by him. But everybody liked him. It was actually quite hard to dislike him—he was so personable.”

But Ballmer did not just excell as a leader in his extracurriculur activities, he was considered a shining academic.