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Rugby Love Fuels Top Microsoft Exec

Int'l News

Rugby Love Fuels Top Microsoft Exec

Steve Guggenheimer makes presentations all over the world, and can often be seen on stage in a rugby jersey, connecting with the audience, and showing his love of a sport he has played all his adult life. Photo courtesy Microsoft Corporation.

Traveling around the world working with expert coders and programmers is a dream job for Steve Guggenheimer, and even more so, it allows him to play and celebrate the game he loves - rugby. 

On stage or watching the British & Irish Lions, Guggenheimer feels comfortable in a rugby jersey. Photos courtesy Microsoft Corporation.
Steven Guggenheimer - Microsoft
Steven Guggenheimer - Microsoft
Steven Guggenheimer - Microsoft

Guggenheimer is a Corporate Vice President & Chief Evangelist for Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant. He is also an incurable rugby player. He started playing in college at UC Davis, and played flanker for the Aggies in the 1980s, and he still plays.

“I loved it,” Guggenheimer told Goff Rugby Report. “We played against all of those great teams in Northern California - Cal, Saint Mary’s, Chico State. We went to the old Monterrey tournament, and played against some great players. I remember [former Cal and USA wing] Gary Hein chipping the ball over me and going by for a try.”

A tall, rangy flanker for Davis, where he majored in Applied Physics, Guggenheimer continued to play club rugby into his 30s, while also getting a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Stanford. As his career took off, athletically he transitioned to old-boys rugby.

“It was funny,” he said. “As I got older I went from flanker to playing lock because I was a little slower then. But then I started playing old-boys, I went back to flanker because I was one of the younger guys again. I love it. I take my boots with me when I travel and I’ve been able to play all over the world.”

As Microsoft’s Chief Evangelist, Guggenheimer works with technology experts to help them find ways to use Microsoft platforms to create applications. Microsoft is a platform company, he explains, and his job is to outline company developments, and explain those developments to technology experts. He is recognized for his down-to-earth approach combined with his expertise.

But he also has served as an ambassador for rugby for the company.

“I’ve worn rugby jerseys at some events and then people starting giving them to me,” he said. “I have shirts from New Zealand and South Africa, Dubai and Sri Lanka. The thing about rugby is that it’s a global game. I am able to get a game or talk about rugby when I travel, and I’ve received some interesting jerseys.”

He has become Microsoft’s unofficial rugby connection, representing the company at the last British & Irish Lions tour, and also at the Rugby World Cup. He met and spoke with famous international captains John Eales (Australia), Francois Pienaar (South Africa), and Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand). 

“People are still surprised that an American might know so much about the game, but it’s growing in this country and getting bigger,” Guggenheimer said. 

Guggenheimer doesn’t always talk about rugby in the big sales presentations - after all, he’s there to talk about technology. But sometimes, in a rugby-playing country, the chance to mention the game or its team or community aspects do come up. Back home, he has been involved in local teams, such as the Eastside Lions HS team. It’s a local game, then, too, as well as a global game. For Steve Guggenheimer, rugby has allowed him to connect on a personal level in the global business world, and it has also allowed him to hold onto those days when you kept a pair of boots in your bag, just in case.