Harry Shrank: Bringing Expertise to the Classroom

Harry Shrank, adjunct professor of marketing at Temple University Ambler

By Galen Newsum
Marketing and Public Relations Intern

Harry Shrank, Adjunct Professor at Temple University, can’t go anywhere at Temple Ambler unnoticed. 

Students currently taking his marketing classes, students who have taken them previously and even students who have yet to set foot in his classroom all call out a warm “Hi Shrank!” when he enters a building. 

This recognition is for good reason — Shrank has been bringing his expertise to the classrooms at Temple University Ambler for more than a decade. In his dozen years at Temple University, Shrank is 12 for 12. He has taught 12 different marketing courses, both at the graduate and undergraduate level. 

“Each course offers something different, something new,” he explained. “My passion right now is international marketing because that’s where everything in business is today.”

Shrank is particularly well known for pairing students with actual companies for projects.

“I like including application projects in the curriculum because they’re mutually beneficial to the companies and students,” he said. “It’s absolutely more helpful than learning out of a book because students are applying marketing content and concepts to real industrial and marketing requirements.”

Teaching, Shrank said, “is sharing.” 

“The best part is observing the success of the students,” he said. “I recognize that their success is their success, but possibly I contributed to it.”

Shrank didn’t start his career as a teacher. He has years in business and marketing to back up what he is teaching in the classroom.

“I started with a degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), then an MBA in marketing and an MS in finance,” Shrank laughed. “I’m a self-designated nerd.”

After graduating from RPI, Shrank began working for Colgate Palmolive before fulfilling a two-year ROTC obligation with the Army where he achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. 

“That was my first five or six years after college,” he said. “I was with Colgate for a while before the Army, then I went back to Colgate when my contract was up.”

Shrank earned his marketing and finance degrees by taking night classes while working full-time.

“My personal interest was general management, so I put engineering together with marketing and finance for the educational background,” he said. “I thought it would prepare me for what I wanted to do.”

After Colgate, he worked at Bristol Myers Company, FMC Corporation, and International Paper Company.

“International Paper offered my ideal job. I was managing eight subsidiaries and a portion of the core business with about 5,000 people that were doing about $5 billion in business,” Shrank said. “I enjoyed it. Everything I’ve done I’ve enjoyed.”

Shrank also forged his own path in business.

“I owned three of my own businesses. One was a paper converting business which I sold to The Newark Group, the largest manufacturer of recycled paper board in the world,” he said. “I stayed on with them for a bit to help with the integration of the businesses. I also sold a consulting firm and a transportation firm.”

There were ups and downs to entrepreneurship, according to Shrank. 

“A disadvantage would be the significant commitment. You’re still there working, but it's different because it becomes part of you,” he said. “The biggest advantage is you have the right to make wrong decisions.”

Shrank said he believes there is no such thing “as a job being hard.” 

“As long as you’re doing what you enjoy, work is not a penalty you have to endure. Everything has advantages and disadvantages — there’s no right or wrong. Everything can be enjoyable,” he said. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I’ll continue to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. We make a mistake, recognize it early and adjust to it in order to make it a success.”

In an effort to help students find their own success, Shrank had also taken on the role of vice president of collegiate relations for the American Marketing Association. 

“The American Marketing Association bridges the gap between local companies and students according to their discipline,” he said. “It provides opportunities for professional development and extensive network building, not only with peers but with the seven or eight speakers on campus every semester. Being part of the AMA is a very positive experience for students.”

According to Shrank, current marketing students need to “be aware, participate and get leadership experience.”

“Get an internship and understand what you do and don’t want to do,” he said. “There are high potential jobs available if you start early and work at it. Make a plan to get the position you want.”