Michael Coffey ’84 Brings an Engineer’s Mind to Business

Coffey receives 2023 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal for an outstanding professional career and commitment to UC Davis

Michael Coffey

Accomplished AT&T executive Michael Coffey believes in the value of an engineer's education for finding success in life. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Davis, in 1984, and is now the recipient of the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal for an outstanding professional career and commitment to his alma mater. 

"My entire educational experience at the UC Davis College of Engineering prepared me to solve problems," Coffey said. "Though I stayed in engineering for a relatively brief portion of my career, the problem-solving skills applied to all professional and personal aspects of my life."   

Coffey, now retired, used this problem-solving background — and a master's degree in management from Golden Gate University — as the foundation for his nearly 40-year career. In addition to AT&T, he worked for Pacific Bell and SBC Global Services Inc., providing general management for critical areas like investor relations, marketing and corporate finance.  

Beginning in 2002, Coffey served in vice president and senior vice president capacities for AT&T. He reduced annual expenses by 10 percent and reframed company culture to be about effortless experience, innovation and teaming as senior vice president of global operations; as vice president of finance, he played a critical role in the merger between BellSouth and AT&T.  

His final role at AT&T, which he retired from in 2023, was senior vice president of mass markets product management. He led product development, customer experience, and pricing for broadband and wireless products through the position. 

Other professional accomplishments include innovating employee reward programs and developing employee-facing programs. Coffey has also received awards and recognition from employee resource groups, such as InspirASIAN, which fosters appreciation and inclusion of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in the chapter's workplace and community, for outstanding leadership and mentorship. 

Coffey's achievements at UC Davis are equally impressive. 

He visits campus annually to meet with students as an advisor in the AvenueE program and to serve as a guest lecturer in programs within the College of Engineering and the Graduate School of Management. He has presented on topics ranging from his first-generation college graduate experience to success in corporate America.  

He and his wife Jody created the first endowed fund with an over $300,000 investment in the Leadership in Engineering Advancement, Diversity and Retention, or LEADR, program. The Coffeys also donated to support the Engineering Student Design Center and the UC Davis Coffee Center

As an active member of the alumni engagement subcommittee, part of the larger Dean's Executive Committee in the College of Engineering, he helped the Development and External Relations team define key engagement metrics and identify target audiences. He also provided the framework to hire a new director of alumni relations and network strategy and helped launch the New Alumni Welcome Celebration.  

In addition to working at the college level, Coffey assists with efforts that help support his undergraduate home: the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. For his service, the department honored him with the Outstanding Alumni Mentor Award in 2022. 

Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal (DEAM)

Outstanding alumni are selected as Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal, or DEAM, recipients every other year. DEAM recipients are recognized for having a record of outstanding achievement in business, academia and/or public service, making substantial contributions to the UC Davis community, and having at least 10 years of professional experience.  

The college's 2023 DEAM recipients will be recognized at an Alumni Celebration, which will take place at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center at UC Davis on Thursday, November 2

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