Kelly Rogan, ’94, leads the tech industry as VP for Microsoft Corporate

By Eva Richards

kelly-rogan-photo-smallRogan will come back to campus virtually on March 31, to lead an online discussion for the college’s “Wednesday Night Wisdom” online speaker series.

For the last 27 years, Kelly Rogan, ’94, has shaped the tech industry through careful project execution, driving the company to success and transforming the iconic Microsoft brand through innovation, modernization and product development. 

While Rogan says her new role leading strategy for the company’s worldwide commercial business “qualifies as a dream project,” it has taken years of hard work and vision for her to reach this goal.

After earning her degree in Operations Management and Information Systems from Northern Illinois' College of Business, Rogan rose in the ranks at Microsoft to transform the company on many levels, most notably migrating the organization to the cloud computing system. She has consistently been recognized for fostering teamwork and using her data analytic skills to build cases to solve business problems. 

“I love working for a company that is shaping the industry and in a role that has a global impact on our customers and employees,” Rogan said. “The people I work with are amazingly talented and are committed to making a difference, but in the community.”

Before coming to Microsoft in 2008, Rogan was an associate vice president at CNA Insurance. She began her career at Ernst & Young as a consultant and worked her way to a senior management position within technology services.  

“There will always be challenges and moments that require the extra time and effort to be put in, but one of the most important ingredients for long-term success is grit,” Rogan said.

Rogan will come back to campus virtually on March 31, to lead an online discussion for the college’s “Wednesday Night Wisdom” online speaker series. With limits on face-to-face interactions, the series taps the College of Business’ valued alumni and friends virtually to share knowledge in a safe, interactive way. 

Growing up in Chicago, Rogan did not always know she would be a leader on a global scale.

“I grew up working in our family bakery business,” she said. “I wasn’t really aware of what was possible in the business world, but I always enjoyed learning and got the bug for computer science in grammar school. When I became an operations management and information systems major and took information systems and computer science classes, something really clicked.”

When Rogan’s friend and fellow NIU alumna Karen Rice, ’93, began consulting at Ernst & Young, it inspired her to follow.

Now, residing in the Seattle area with her husband Paul (former NIU Huskie Football Co-Captain in 1990), their three children and two English bulldogs, she has served on committees to raise funds for Make-A-Wish and has a passion for enabling young children to pursue STEM education.

“I was blessed to be introduced to programming in grammar school and again in high school. That was in the ’80s!” she said. “With my own children, it was really odd to me that they were going to great schools and had less options to learn than I did. Coding is fun and the career possibilities are endless. I love the movement, which was started with ‘Hour of Code,’ a simple way to get kids excited about what is possible.”

Rogan notes that NIU was a great place to get grounded in business while building practical technical skills that she put to use as soon as she graduated. Because of her appreciation for this preparation, she is looking forward to coming back to campus to lead the College of Business’ discussion.

“I remember how much I benefited from alumnae who returned to tell their stories,” she said. “I hope my story provides inspiration for students on the infinite career possibilities that exist.”

All are welcome to register for this free event, which will take place on Wednesday, March 31, from 6-7:30 p.m. CDT. Register now!