headshot of Deniz

“Before anything else, InspirASIAN is a family.”

Over 13 years with AT&T, Deniz Kustu has moved through a number of business units: finance, IT, digital strategy – just to name a few. He started in Los Angeles through our Leadership Development Program, where participants rotate between three jobs in three years. During his second rotation, he was asked to work in Dallas.

“They asked me to move at the same time the Headquarters relocated there. I felt that was them telling me it was a good opportunity. Then I realized I didn’t know anyone in Dallas outside of some close team members.”

Deniz started searching for his network and a place where he could set his roots down in the city. Members of our employee group InspirASIAN – then called Asian Pacific Islanders for Professional and Community Advancement (APCA) – invited him to a Dragonboat race.

“That helped me meet a lot of people who were part of the local community. I joined more events, then later in the year I joined the APCA board.”

As InspirASIAN’s National Vice President, Deniz partners with internal teams and external organizations to help plan and execute relevant and impactful initiatives like events for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“When we get together, act boldly, and keep a win as one mindset, nothing is impossible. We focus our efforts on people’s stories to ensure Asian American and Pacific Islander voices are heard, and we took home  prestigious Asia Society Awards and numerous ERG in Action awards. We’re passionate about diversity, inclusion and finding common interests. We are always there for each other, and we always look for ways to make a positive impact in our communities.”

dragonboat race

Such causes include volunteering as mentors to help bridge the digital divide, serving food at local food banks, mentoring leaders of the future and raising over $1M in scholarship money for inbound college students with big dreams. InspirASIAN members educate fellow employees and their communities to create an understanding of the Asian cultures within them.

“Professionally, InspirASIAN has helped me a lot. One of the nice things about the group is that, because of our focuses and causes, we get a lot of executive support. I’ve had the pleasure of working with multiple executives in different units, building personal relationships and learning something new from each of them. I’ve been fortunate to get valuable mentoring time from them because of the projects we worked on together for InspirASIAN.”

Seeing the results

When asked about what makes InspirASIAN and other AT&T employee groups stand out, Deniz focuses on impact.

“InspirASIAN’s pivot to virtual during the pandemic provided us with a world of new possibilities to further make tangible, visible impacts in our communities. We are proud of the way we were able to bring people together and rally them around good causes in a time where everyone was isolated. Nothing replaces the feeling of knowing that you’re making a difference in the community and being able to see it. That’s where employee groups at AT&T differentiate themselves. We are proud of that here.”

In March 2022, InspirASIAN hosted a #United4Ukraine Concert for AT&T’s Humanitarian Support for Ukraine Giving Opportunity. The event included musical performances and a fireside chat with AT&T leaders, as well as employee testimonials of their experiences fleeing the war in Ukraine. Proceeds from the event contributed to AT&T’s fund that was used to help support those in need.

“We put together the #United4Ukraine Concert in less than 2 weeks. It was a good example of how we are a nimble and flexible organization that recognizes the needs of today, can quickly pivot our resources to where they need to be and can execute successfully to deliver meaningful impact in our communities.”

Lifelong connections

inspirASIAN logo

There’s a lot happening at InspirASIAN and the employee group is always open to new members. When asked about joining, Deniz shared the following advice:

“Understand what events and activities are taking place. Make an effort to get out there, meet people and get involved. If you like what you’re doing, join the local or national board. You gain invaluable experience, and it brings a great community-impact perspective. Running a non-profit takes a lot of leadership and professional skills.”

“The friends I made, I made them for life. Even when they leave the company, they still participate in our events. People are passionate, friendly, and it’s a family-like environment. It’s been a fantastic experience for me, and I’m sure it will be for everyone.”

Learn more about the Asian community at AT&T