Mark Harris


Mark Harris HeadshotMark Harris joined the advertising and public relations faculty at the University of Alabama after completing a three-decade career in IBM Communications. In his last role at IBM, he was vice president of Communications for IBM Global Business Services, the $17 billion unit that provides business consulting services to clients around the world.

In that role, Mark led external relations, executive support and communications to a workforce of more than 100,000 across 90 countries, responsible for the competitive positioning of IBM as a business advisor and provider of transformational business services with traditional media, analysts and via social platforms.

During a career that included direct support of current IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in the formative years of IBM’s consulting business, Mark led the team that launched IBM’s landmark partnership with Apple, and the teams that announced the industry’s first consulting practices dedicated to Business Analytics and Cognitive Computing. He played a leadership role in the articulation of the company’s stance on global labor and led the team that delivered IBM’s first Corporate Social Responsibility report.

Throughout the seminal years of IBM’s turnaround, Mark was a senior communications advisor to IBM Chairman and CEO Lou Gerstner, and Gerstner’s chief speechwriter from 1996 through his retirement in 2002. As an outgrowth of his work with Gerstner, Rometty and a range of other senior leaders, he developed and continues to deliver a high-impact program of personal presentation training for IBM consultants and executives.

Prior to IBM, Mark was with United Press International as a reporter in Birmingham, Ala., and as 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.

He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations; and holds BA and MA degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama.

More from Mark Harris:


Our Mission

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;

Bridging the interests and vision of the practice and education; and

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