[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Microsoft has hired Mark Penn, former worldwide CEO of the public relations firm  Burson-Marsteller  as corporate vice president, Strategic and Special Projects. Mr. Penn will lead a small interdisciplinary team with an emphasis on key consumer initiatives for the company, and report to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.  Mr. Penn had been involved with Microsoft in a consulting role since 1998.

Mr. Penn, 58, was formerly the worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller and CEO of the  Burson-Marsteller sister polling firm Penn Schoen Berland. He has also been active in national and international politics, but he will not be involved in public policy issues for Microsoft, says the company. Mr. Penn served as strategic consultant to top Fortune 500 companies, including Ford, Merck, Intel,  McDonald’s, and Microsoft. Mr. Penn is the author of  Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, and is a regular contributor to various national publications. Mr. Penn graduated from the Horace Mann School and Harvard College and attended Columbia Law School.

Mr. Penn will divide his time between  Washington, D.C., where he is based, and the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond.