IBM executive, former basketball player, says networking is the new game

When IBM executive Robert (Bob) Hann ‘82 and ’87 returned to campus in spring of 2010 he had some sage advice for current marketing students, “network, network, network.”

After all, it was networking that helped Hann get an interview with IBM in the first place.

“I had graduated with my master’s degree in 1987 and wanted to move to Arizona,” he told the class. “At the recommendation of Chancellor Weidner, I met an IBM marketing rep, Marty Dewitt, who had lived in Green Bay but moved to Phoenix. Marty made it clear that IBM wasn’t hiring, but said he would be happy to arrange an interview with his manager.”

As the 6-9 Hann, a former Phoenix men’s basketball player tells it, the first thing the IBM manager asked him was whether he still played basketball.

“The local IBM office had a team and they needed a big guy, the rest is history.”

Obviously, it isn’t Hann’s stature or basketball skill that has carried him through his 20-plus-year career with IBM. But a willingness to network gave him an edge and an introduction. Hann, a regional analysis major with a master’s degree in administrative science, now oversees 40 representatives across the Western portion of the United States, who focus their day-to-day on competitive technology.

Last year, when visiting UW-Green Bay for the first time in years, Hann volunteered to speak to marketing students on campus about his field and his experience.

“My advice to them was to network, network, network,” he said. “Get a warm introduction if you want to get a job and don’t be afraid to volunteer to get experience. Internships are critical and some are not paid. Work for money at night but get experience any way you can regardless of how much or how little it pays.”

Hann left for Arizona impressed by his alma mater and the positive changes on campus. But not before talking a little “hoops,” of course. Once a “baller,” always a “baller.”

“I was very impressed with the new academic buildings and, of course, the Kress Center. Top notch. If Butler can play for the National Championship with a 50-year-old fieldhouse and 2,500 students, don’t tell me ‘GB’ can’t do the same. Having played for Dave Buss and coached with Dick Bennett, defense wins games and can always make an average team competitive. I just don’t believe you cannot recruit to GB after seeing schools like Butler, Gonzaga, and St. Mary’s do it year in and year out.”