Giving back to Texas A&M University has been a priority for Mikal Harn ’88 for many years but, on a recent campus visit, he gave students something more valuable than endowment dollars: he shared his wisdom, acquired through twenty years of corporate experience.

Harn, the vice president and general manager of AT&T Southwest, spoke to both graduate and undergraduate business students about the process of corporate rebranding and the marketing of a new product.

Harn lecturing
AT&T Southwest Vice President and General Manager Mikal Harn ’88 speaks to Mays students.

The multimedia savvy students were all ears as Harn talked about U-Verse , AT&T’s new product offering which combines Internet and TV usage. Harn engaged students by discussing the future of media consumption and AT&T’s role in that platform, reaching far beyond their traditional stereotype as a phone service provider.

“We had a big job on our hands. Our brand needed to be resurrected,” said Harn, who has been with the company for 10 years.

To get the word out about the new technology offered in U-Verse, Harn and his team are using some surprisingly low-tech methods of communication: home demo parties, neighborhood events, door-to-door and retail sales, and even branded ice-cream trucks featuring sweet treats and flat-screen displays.

This grassroots method is unorthodox in today’s fast-paced consumer market, but so far, they are seeing big results. “It’s a brand new technology…and there are a lot of naysayers,” said Harn. “But really it’s all about service and how you differentiate yourself.”

Harn also shared more general business advice with the students, encouraging them to find a job they love, but also to gain a variety of job experiences to continue to grow. He commented that in the 20 years since he was a student, some things have not changed at Texas A&M—most importantly, the strong Aggie work ethic is still evident.

Harn received his BBA in marketing from Texas A&M University. He also holds an MBA from Incarnate Word University in San Antonio.