When she first joined AT&T, Erika didn’t know about The NETwork – our Employee Group (EG) dedicated to Black employees, and the oldest Employee Group in AT&T. She only knew that AT&T was an innovative company, one that interested her as someone with an engineering background and a passion for technology.

Balancing Technology and Business

“After my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering, I worked as a Systems Engineer for three years before shifting my career and focusing more on business. AT&T’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) always interested me because of the opportunity to gain experience by rotating through multiple business units.”

As she developed her skills in the LDP, driving strong business results in industries like technology, media, and telecommunications, she was also connecting with leaders through The NETwork. “One of the reasons why I joined The NETwork was because of its mission – to transform the lives of its members by providing them with professional development and community service opportunities. Being a part of The NETwork, I’m afforded added exposure that I may not have received through the LDP. The NETwork helps facilitate different conversations and foster new dialogue. When meeting leaders through The NETwork, our initial conversations are usually surrounding our impact to the community.”

Celebrating History

2019 was a year to celebrate and reflect on such leaders. It marked the group’s 50th year, and the Georgia-Metro Atlanta chapter had big plans. “We hosted a Black History Month Program commemorating our 50th Anniversary and welcomed the incoming President of AT&T Georgia as our keynote speaker. We also celebrated a former National NETwork CEO who has made a tremendous impact to the organization.

“Celebrating Black History is about understanding our culture, background and traditions. It’s about being proud of the legacy created by those before us, celebrating our perseverance, and encouraging the new generation. As a first-generation college student and corporate professional, it can be hard to assimilate in an environment where no one looks like you. It’s reaffirming to see Black leaders thrive and succeed in such a growing and influential industry.”

The chapter is also looking forward to the summer months for their inaugural eSTEAM Fair – an opportunity for kids in Atlanta’s Westside to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math as part of the larger Believe Atlanta initiative.

Joining The NETwork board wasn’t an easy decision for Erika. It meant a lot of responsibility, and the opportunity came in the middle of wedding plans. Witnessing the success of those before her and seeing her own personal growth since starting, she doesn’t regret the decision.

“Using what I’ve learned in the LDP and incorporating it into my leadership style through The NETwork, I’m able to see that maturity in different aspects of my life. I’m finding my confidence along the way. I may be young in tenure with my career here at AT&T, but my passion lies in empowering people to lead positive and impactful lives.”

Quality vs. Quantity

What would Erika suggest to someone looking to make the same impact? If it’s the first day of your new career, it’s more than just saying hi to everyone.

“A lot of people join a company of this size and try to connect with as many people as they can, but there may not be any substance to it. The real value is when you can personally connect with an individual. When you connect with successful leaders, that success has – and will – continue to act as an inspiration to younger generations.”

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