The negative stigma some people place on majors like those found within the Harrington School of Communications and Media at the University of Rhode Island are often disparaging. Â Because of this, it is important for students to hear from former students who display how a culmination of communicative skills can lead to success.
Considering the vision of those behind the new Harrington School, there is no better example of a success story than that of Michael Maynard, director of corporate communications at Textron.
According to the Textron, a Rhode Island based company founded in 1923 website, “We have grown into a network of businesses with total revenues of $13.9 billion, and approximately 34,000 employees with facilities and presence in 25 countries, serving a diverse and global customer base.”
On Thursday, March 5, Maynard came to White Hall to speak with students about his journey to success to leading Textron, which is ranked 228 on the FORTUNE 500 list of largest U.S. companies.
“See the bigger picture,” Maynard said. He said these words only once, while speaking to the students, but they resonated throughout his entire presentation.
While pursuing his graduate degree, Maynard was also working at the Providence Journal. From there he moved to Washington D.C. to write for an architecture magazine. After not too long he ended up back in Rhode Island, writing for the Providence Journal. In 1999 the ProJo cut the position Maynard had held and that sent him into public relations. He worked at a small firm with 10-12 clients.
Maynard faced the many job security challenges through his career that scare people away from communication fields today. His main advice to overcome these challenges is to use each former experience as a stepping stone for the future.
“If you go through that period, just always think of the next step,” Maynard said. “Everything you learn in communications, you can learn in journalism.”
Maynard’s varied skills in journalism, public relations and politics have helped him be able to handle a job of the magnitude that he has today.
In a video on the home website of the Harrington School, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Winnie Brownell, said, “We discovered that several different programs had a lot in common, and a lot of ideas or interests for the future that could be developed, if only we could work together.”
This idea is what created the Harrington School of Communications and Media, which consists of majors in Communications Studies, Film/Media, Journalism, Public Relations, Writing & Rhetoric and Library & Information Studies.
“What a great opportunity to bring together all of the communications disciplines,” Maynard said after his presentation. “The more that students in the different communications majors collaborate with one another, the better equipped they’ll be when they enter the working world.”
Maynard said that Dr. Adam Roth, interim director of the Harrington School, had filled him in about the vision for the new school and he is optimistic about the future for students at URI.
“They’ll get great exposure to the various roles within communications and be working with state-of-the-art equipment in a fantastic facility,” Maynard said. “The next few years will certainly be very exciting for the students, alumni and the faculty.”