Cathy Coughlin, senior executive vice president and global marketing officer, AT&T - 2013 Women in Wireless

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Cathy Coughlin, senior executive vice president and global marketing officer, AT&T - 2013 Women in WirelessA 34-year AT&T (NYSE:T) veteran, Cathy Coughlin, senior executive vice president and global marketing officer, is a member of AT&T's senior leadership team and reports directly to CEO Randall Stephenson. Coughlin has the important task of overseeing the company's brand and reputation, as well as its brand strategy, advertising, corporate communications, events and sponsorships worldwide.

Being in charge of one of the largest advertising budgets in the world is no easy task. Ad Age's DataCenter ranked AT&T as the fifth largest advertiser in 2012 with a budget of close to $2.36 billion. And advertising AT&T's wireless network is clearly a huge part of that budget.

Wireless carriers are engaged in a cut-throat battle for subscribers and recently AT&T started taking aim at former merger partner T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) by launching an attack ad campaign that blasts T-Mobile's network speeds and call performance. Of course, AT&T isn't alone: The firm's competitors are also making digs. A June ad from T-Mobile called AT&T Mobility's new handset upgrade program "sneaky" and "underhanded."

Although keeping AT&T's brand and reputation untarnished  and overseeing a multibillion-dollar ad budget is important, what  really makes Coughlin an influential woman in the wireless industry is her role as an advocate for attracting more women into careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Coughlin, who is a member of the board of the Girls Scouts of America, can often be found taking local Girl Scouts on tours of the AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas,  to see first-hand the innovative technologies that are currently being developed there.

In addition, earlier this summer she helped organize and served as a judge in AT&T's first-ever women-focused hackathon, an event that attracted 85 participants and observers.

Coughlin's commitment to promoting women in tech is not only beneficial to AT&T but to the entire telecom industry.

Baker