Westmont Magazine Following a Call to Public Service
Eric Stark ’90 quit his job at AT&T to work for the Bush administration even before the president secured a second term. “My boss advised me to stay until the election to make sure my guy won,” Eric says. But he didn’t listen. He knew it was time to do something more meaningful with his life.
The Republicans kept the White House, and Eric started networking with Westmont alumni contacts. In July 2005, he got a political appointment in the Department of Commerce directing the Office of Policy Analysis and Development in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He researches and analyzes telecommunication issues —from radio and television to cell phones and radar —to advise the White House.
After graduating from Westmont with a degree in economics and business, Eric went to work for AT&T in Los Angeles, starting in sales operations. With time, he earned an M.B.A.at the University of Southern California and went into account management, becoming regional sales manager. He jumped at the opportunity to manage the sales team for one of the company’s largest international accounts and moved to San Francisco as a global account director.
“It was a dream job,” Eric says. “I had always been interested in international business.” Eventually, he realized it wasn’t the ideal job for him. “I was successful, but I was focused entirely on the next sale and the next customer issue. I wanted to do something more than sell to clients and make commissions. The idea of public service really appealed to me as a way to make a bigger impact.”
In San Francisco, Eric got involved with the local Republican group. People he met there suggested that he work for the administration, so he began the networking process that led to his current position.
“I love what I do,” Eric says. “It’s exciting to work with people who continually impress me and to be involved with issues that have wide-ranging repercussions for the country.” He tracks new technology and speaks regularly at conferences about the future of telecommunications. The administration wants to put high-speed broadband Internet access in the hands of all Americans, so Eric and his staff identify policies that best support this goal. “I also work to incorporate market principles in government processes,” he says. “Government can be very slow, bureaucratic and inefficient. I want to make sure it doesn’t get in the way of business, technology and consumers.”
Eric got his first lessons in relationships and networking at Westmont. “The thing that sticks with me from college is the quality of the friendships I made,” he says. “Fifteen years later, I still get together with men I met my freshman year. They remain some of my closest friends.”
While he looks toward the future at work, Eric steps into the past on Sunday at the Falls Church, where George Washington worshiped. He and his wife, Sabrina Agnew Stark ’90, attend the historic church with their two sons. “I appreciate its unique heritage,” he says. The family lives in Alexandria, Va.
At a recent trade show, Eric saw personal communication devices that pick-up TV broadcasts as well as the Internet and phone calls. “I can see the future coming,and it’s incredibly exciting,” he says.