Mark Harris

Mark Harris Headshot

Mark Harris serves as global communications advisor to Xero, the world’s foremost cloud-based financial management platform for small businesses – his latest stop in a career spanning journalism, corporate communications and higher education.

Following more than 30 years leading communications programs at IBM, Mark joined the public relations faculty at the University of Alabama in 2017 and spent three years as a professor in residence in America’s premier public relations program.

Mark retired from IBM in 2016 as vice president of communications for the company’s global consulting business, a $17 billion unit providing business transformation services to clients around the world.

In that role, Mark was responsible for executive support, media relations and communications for a workforce of more than 100,000 across 90 countries. He led the competitive positioning of IBM as a provider of business consulting services, including the launch and positioning of IBM’s landmark mobility partnership with Apple.

Mark led the teams that launched the industry’s first consulting practices dedicated to Business Analytics and Cognitive Computing; produced IBM’s first Corporate Social Responsibility report; and he played a leadership role in the development and articulation of IBM’s stance on global labor.

Before moving into the consulting business, Mark was a senior communications advisor and chief speechwriter for former IBM Chairman and CEO Lou Gerstner. As an outgrowth of his work with an array of senior leaders and IBM consulting partners, Mark developed and continues to deliver a program of personal presentation skills coaching.

Prior to joining IBM, Mark was with United Press International as a reporter in Birmingham, Ala., and later served as UPI bureau chief in Columbia, S.C., covering politics, the courts, crime, civil rights, natural disasters, college and professional sports, and on one memorable evening in 1983, an electric chair execution.

Mark holds BA and MA degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. He is a member of the board of advisors at the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.


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The Plank Center’s mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. The Center works to achieve its mission by:

Advancing knowledge of leadership values and skills in the profession;

Supporting research, teaching, service, and professional educational efforts that help develop diverse, responsible and trustworthy leaders;

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Collaborating with other groups and associations to nurture the ethical and effective practice of public relations.