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Flynt follows familiar path into telecom

Earlier this year, R. Mayo Flynt III was named president of AT&T Mississippi. If his last name sounds familiar, it should. His father, Roger Flynt, held the same position with AT&T Mississippi’s predecessor, BellSouth Mississippi, in the late 1980s.

In his role as president of AT&T Mississippi, Mayo Flynt is responsible for all of the telecommunication company’s operations in the state, including external affairs, regulatory affairs and public policy. He has plenty of knowledge and experience to fall back on.

Flynt previously served as vice president for regulatory and governmental affairs for then BellSouth International in Atlanta and executive director of congressional affairs for BellSouth in Washington, D.C., before being named vice president of regulatory and external affairs for BellSouth in Birmingham, Ala.

Before joining BellSouth in 1994, Flynt worked for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and held several positions in the office of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Interestingly, from 1988-1992 he worked on the Bush-Quayle national presidential campaign, eventually serving as vice presidential check-writer.

Flynt currently serves on the boards of directors for Momentum Mississippi, Mississippi Technology Alliance and Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development. He is also a member of the board of directors and board of governors of the Mississippi Economic Council and Jackson Downtown Rotary Club.

A Jackson native, Flynt holds a bachelor of business administration degree in managerial finance from the University of Mississippi.

Flynt and his wife, Renee, have two children — Sarah and Olivia.

Flynt paused in his busy schedule to answer a few questions from the Mississippi Business Journal about his feelings on returning to Mississippi and following in his father’s footsteps, his early experiences in Washington, the company’s rebranding efforts and community involvement.

Mississippi Business Journal: Tell us your feelings about returning home to Mississippi. With your father having served as state president of the predecessor company, it is more rewarding, right?

Mayo Flynt: It does, and it’s very surprising at the same time. When I think about how much this industry has changed in the last 10 years, it is somewhat amazing to me that I have been given the opportunity to come home to Mississippi and work, not only in the same position my father held 20 years earlier, but also in the very same office. That’s unusual — and exciting. Simply being back in Mississippi where my wife, Renee, and I have family and so many good friends is a great development.

MBJ: What did you learn from your early days in Washington, D.C.? What did you carry away from that experience?

Flynt: I learned the world is a very competitive place and to succeed it is important to figure out how you can add value to something. The first step is understanding what you really find interesting and enjoyable to do — everyday. It’s hard to add value if you don’t like what you’re doing or simply aren’t interested. Second, it is crucial to find people you enjoy working with. For me, these things came together when I started working for BellSouth in 1994.

MBJ: How has the BellSouth/Cingular re-branding progressed? Have your expectations been met?

Flynt: Frankly, my expectations have been exceeded. Customer awareness and adoption of the change has occurred much quicker than I anticipated. The June launch of the iPhone, the most anticipated consumer product in years, generated a lot of consumer interest and awareness about the new AT&T and, I think, it helped cement the change into consumer minds much faster.

MBJ: You have been and continue to be heavily involved in both community and economic development. What do you feel your personal role is in these areas, as well as the role of AT&T Mississippi? Why is it important?

Flynt: AT&T has a history of supporting the local community because we live here — we are a part of the community and we want to see it thrive. When I say “we” I am referring not only to the corporation, but also individual employees like myself. We believe we have a responsibility to serve and lead in the community. AT&T employees volunteer thousands of hours of service to a range of organizations too wide to name. As a leading business in the state we are dedicated to doing our part to help Mississippi grow and thrive. It is a big part of who we are.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

About Wally Northway

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