ANALYSIS: Profile - Sybase or naval base, Myllenbeck is alwaysready

Rick Myllenbeck has worked in tech. PR for the past 16 years. Now

at data company Sybase, he's making an unusual transfer - to the US

Navy. Julia Hood reports.

Rick Myllenbeck's life was turned upside down on October 24. The senior

director of PR and internal communications for Sybase, a database

technology company, was in San Francisco with CEO John Chen for an

interview with CNBC's Power Lunch, when he got a call on his cell


The former US Navy pilot and lieutenant commander in the US Naval

Reserves was officially tapped to serve in America's war against

terrorism in the office of Naval Intelligence.

Myllenbeck departed for an undisclosed location at the end of


He only had three days to get his life in order, including packing up

his apartment, and saying goodbye to his girlfriend and two children,

ages 14 and 10.

The day before Myllenbeck was called up, Sybase announced that it had

beaten analysts' estimates in Q3 by two cents per share. Even though

Sybase reported a loss of $7.1 million, the share price is now

$14.47, up from $11.51 on October 26, 2001.

Myllenbeck is pleased to be leaving the company at a positive moment,

but he was not happy to say good-bye to the six-person team that he has

so carefully built. "That was very hard," he says. "I didn't stay

dry-eyed on that one."

The team had a supreme test of that cohesiveness on the day of the

terrorist attacks. Myllenbeck was in Topeka, KS, racing the Sybase

sports car in the Sports Car Club of America national championships.

Myllenbeck, who owns a 1962 Ferrari, has a thing for racing and cars, a

trait inherited from his father.

The event was cancelled, and Myllenbeck drove back to Emeryville, CA,

leaving his team in charge of the hectic and painful internal

communications task related to tracking down employees and coping with

the terrible news that Sybase had lost two staff members in the World

Trade Center.

"It's a tribute to the team for doing its best to put emotions aside,"

Myllen-beck says. "I've always been a team builder, and they really

stood up to the test."

Now, as he departs for an indefinite period of time, Myllenbeck plans to

stay in touch via email. Meanwhile, Paula Dunn, senior PR manager, will

be stepping in as acting director of the department. Ironically, at one

time Dunn was also in the Navy, where she worked as a public affairs

officer at the Pentagon. "He built a strong in-house team here and very

clearly established Paula Dunn as his second in command," explains

Pamela George, SVP of corporate marketing.

Myllenbeck's career path has always been entwined with technology. He

started his career at Amdahl Corp, a manufacturer of mainframe


He moved on to Apple in 1987, where he experienced one of the high

points of his career.

"It was during the glory years, when Apple was pushing into business

marketing," he remembers. Little was known about the networking ability

of the Mac, which had been considered by users and the media to be a

standalone machine.

The whole area of networking was an exciting new market, but it was a

problem explaining the technology to unseasoned business and technology

reporters. "The editorial community was skeptical and not familiar with

networking technology, which was complicated," he says. "They weren't

sure what questions they should be asking, and they didn't understand

the answers."

Myllenbeck's solution to the problem was to hold a seminar on networking

technology for 40 reporters in Cupertino, CA, bringing in technology

experts to lecture and write chapters on their particular subjects for a

take-home binder. Apple's PR team was then positioned as a resource on

the subject, providing clarification on specific tech questions. "The

benefit was huge," he says. "The reporters walked away with enough

knowledge that when they came back, we had some ground to work


After Apple, Myllenbeck worked at financial services newcomer Start,

then moved to Novell and Creative Labs, and had a brief stint at UpStart

Communications. Sybase hired him, in part, to help fulfill its long-term

objectives of building relationships in the business press. "The bulk of

the coverage we were getting was in the trade publications, but we

needed to move into a new market," George says. "We needed to talk about

Sybase's vision. Rick's personality fits in so well with the company,

with the brand personality, and dependability."

Myllenbeck is well known to many in the technology space, as he recently

completed a lengthy agency review after the company parted ways with

Weber Shandwick Worldwide. After considering several firms, such as

Ketchum, Edelman, The Horn Group, and Phase Two Strategies, Myllenbeck

finally chose Citigate Cunningham as agency of record because he wanted

a medium-size firm with global research and resources.

Myllenbeck is clearly distraught to be leaving his job just when things

are looking up, but he's committed to his Naval service. "I feel really

blessed to be in a position to do something about this," he says. He is

also determined to stay on top of the Sybase news while he's away.

"Technology moves very quickly. I don't want to get disconnected from

technology or my contacts, or from Sybase's forward motion."


1976-1980: Flight crew/antisubmarine warfare specialist, US Navy

1982-1985: Owner/Principal, Myllenbeck-Helms PR

1985-1987: Manager of PR, Amdahl

1987-1992: Manager of PR/marketing, Apple

1992-1993: Director of PR/marketing, Start

1993-1996: Senior manager of PR corporate and internet, Novell commerce


1996-1999: Director of PR and internet marketing, Creative Labs

1999: Group director, UpStart Communications

1999-present: Senior director of PR and internal communications, Sybase

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