AT&T executive Brooks McCorcle ’82 specializes in “breaking glass,” and in the spring, she invited a group from SMU to join her.
“‘Breaking glass’ is looking at new and different ways to do things,” says McCorcle, president of Emerging Business Markets, a startup within AT&T that is responsible for identifying and rapidly launching innovative solutions to drive value and growth in AT&T Business Solutions.
Approximately 30 students and several members of the SMU leadership team and alumni joined McCorcle for a “Hack-a-Pitch” and “Barnstorm”– sobriquets that capture the lightning pace and freewheeling spirit of the brainstorming event.
Emerging Business Markets, co-located at the AT&T Foundry® innovation center, in Plano served as the setting for the collaborative exercise centered on finding new opportunities for the company to work with SMU to improve and enhance the campus experience. The group first broke into small teams to exchange ideas and formulate proposals. They later regrouped for a pitch session.
“We set up a little bit of framework, then let them go after it,” McCorcle explains. “I was really impressed by the students’ creativity and their poise and confidence when they presented their ideas to the group.”
As a result, AT&T prepared a proposal of 30 ideas generated from the session that were shared with SMU leadership. They touch on many aspects of student life including the application process, on-campus living and job recruitment.
McCorcle recently followed up with University leaders to discuss possible next steps, including potential app development.
The unbounded intellectual workout that McCorcle facilitated is the type of activity she would have relished as an SMU student. She earned a B.B.A. in the Cox School of Business and explored other interests through minors in economics and women’s studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
While she enjoyed “great relationships with many of my professors,” McCorcle says Ann Early stands out in her memory. Early taught for many years and was instrumental in introducing the study of women to the SMU curriculum in the 1960s. She directed SMU’s Women’s Studies Program when McCorcle was a student. Today, the Ann Early Award is given each year to a Women’s and Gender Studies minor in recognition of academic achievement in the minor and service to the program.
“She was not only brilliant, thoughtful and courageous as she forged new ground in academia, but she was an incredibly authentic person,” McCorcle says. “She pushed you to your limits and truly wanted to know and understand your point of view. From her I learned how to articulate your viewpoint as a headline supported by proof points. I still do that today.
“She made a huge impact on me, showing me what the possibilities for women were. I have modeled many of my leadership characteristics on her,” she adds. “I try to be as authentic and inspiring as she was, to welcome a diversity of views, to be an advocate. And, I invite my team to my home. I learned that from her. She invited her students to her home, and it was such a meaningful way to show that she cared about us as people. It really forged a relationship of trust.”
McCorcle honed leadership skills through various roles with student organizations. A member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, she served as Panhellenic rush chair. As a member of the Program Council, she welcomed such luminaries as actor Vincent Price to the Hilltop. She also participated on the student judiciary committee.
For her contributions to the SMU community, she received the “M” Award, the University’s highest commendation for students, faculty, staff and administrators.
McCorcle went on to earn an M.B.A. from the Olin Business School at Washington University.
Over her 24-year tenure with AT&T and its predecessor companies, she has held positions in Mergers & Acquisitions and Finance, and executive positions in Consumer Marketing, Customer Care and Sales.
She has earned numerous professional awards. In 2012, she was listed among the “Top 30 Women in Finance” by Treasury & Risk magazine and was named the “#1 Investor Relations Professional in the Telecom Industry” by Institutional Investor magazine for 2011. The Dallas Business Journal recently honored her in the 2014 “Women in Business” awards program that recognizes outstanding local women business leaders who not only are making a difference in their industries, but also in their communities.
For her work in the community with Friends of the Dallas Public Library and other organizations, she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
While discussing her accomplishments, McCorcle circles back to SMU.
“SMU does a great job of preparing you to succeed out of the gate,” she says. “You leave with the academic foundation and confidence you need to be successful in your first job. And the valuable lessons you take with you and apply immediately are those you will use and refine over the course of your career.”
– Patricia Ward