Chapter 1: Before #LifeatATT!

Embracing my colors and defining my authentic self

I was born to an Air Force veteran and one of the most beautiful, caring women I know, my mom!  I took my first breath and a glimpse of light in Alexandria, Louisiana. It’s the heart of Central Louisiana, the locals refer to it as Alex (Alec) or A-Town! The youngest of four, I was welcomed by my sister and two brothers.

I lost my father at a very early age and it was my mother’s strength that provided the blueprint of my life. I was a happy, smiley, dancing child from very humble beginnings. I can remember my first pair of boots, gifted by my grandmother, and my favorite pair of roller skates, a gift from my mother at my 7th He-Man birthday party! My memories are filled with the tune of the beginning stages of learning to play the trumpet and marching in my high school band. You never know what you don’t have until you have it, and to me, we had the world! We made the most of life, and I am grateful for the lessons and obstacles that shaped my character.

Growing up in the south in the early 80s and 90s, I quickly realized that many of the colors that made up my vibrant fabric were different from others around me. I saw that people who looked like me were treated differently but I found comfort in not being alone – listening to my mother on the precautions I must take because of the color of my skin and hearing stories of past historical events from the elders of the family. On the other hand, I had no one to assist me in navigating a part of me that I had kept a secret. Not only was I a young black male living in the south, I was a young, black, gay male living in the south.

The name-calling and threats others walking a similar life went through pushed me to try and walk in someone else’s shoes. But telling my closest friends and family at the age of 16 helped me stand in my truth. My biggest fear was telling my heart, my biggest fan, and support…my mother. Once she embraced my true self, the world became my obstacle and battlefield, but her love made it a tad bit easier.

After attempts at college and working many jobs, I found the United States Navy. The Navy taught me to face my fears and work through life’s challenges. I had no problem with the strict culture of bootcamp and took pride in the uniform. The military provided a closeness to my dad, who I never once had a conversation with; in a way, I wanted him to be proud. I learned how to be a part of a team and the different phases of storming and finally performing to solve issues. The era of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell loomed during my successful journey in the Navy. After a brief stay and learning so many valuable tools, my journey ended. I owe a lot to the structure it provided to my life, but the life that was waiting for me was a life of genuine authenticity, and I was ready to be 100% Cory!

Chapter 2: Own your path

Even if you need a bulldozer!

I found #LifeatATT at a local retail store in Alexandria, Louisiana. There were two positions open at the time, Retail Sales Consultant and Sales Support Representative. After several years working in the telecommunications industry before the military, I found the most intriguing role to be Sales Support. After the first day of training, I felt a sense of empowerment. I don’t remember who I told this to, a family member or friend, but I instantly stated, AT&T is the company for me! I was welcomed into the retail organization by a fantastic team of leaders and peers who provided me with a solid foundation. After my first year with AT&T, my career took off!

I was quickly promoted to Assistant Manager in a very familiar place: New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). NOLA holds an extraordinary place in my heart for those who know me well, and this particular place took my career to a different level. During my journey at AT&T, the New Orleans – Gulf States team recognized the genuine authenticity of Cory for the first time in my life. I worked with leaders who mentored, developed, and fine-tuned my skills. As a result, I went back to school to complete my Bachelor of Business Administration, worked four different roles from sales manager to retail operations, was selected to be a part of the Management Development Program, and completed my Masters of Business Administration degree. Phew! The years in New Orleans provided my AT&T building blocks.

To this day I look back to all the memories, experiences, peers, and friends I met along the way for inspiration. But like all good things, they must come to an end. I was excited and ready for the next chapter of #LifeatATT but not prepared to leave NOLA. One of my mentors reached in her bag and gave me some vital golden nuggets of wisdom. “Cory, it’s time to place your fingerprints across AT&T, don’t be afraid to spread your wings.” I packed my bags (well, thanks to AT&T Travel-lol) and was well on my way to Dallas, Texas to work with the National Authorized Retail team. I was a small fish in a huge ocean, no one knew me, but with the help of my leadership team and peers, I quickly felt at home. New friendships and mentor relationships were born and I took every opportunity to learn, develop, and adjust.

My journey continued with #LifeatATT to Redmond, Washington to work with the Pacific States retail organization (Go Pac Force!), back to Dallas to support the former Central Region Retail Operations, now West Region Retail Operations (CRush to GO West!). Following my passion, I was immediately fascinated to join the Human Resources organization and lead AT&T’s Diversity and Military attraction efforts before landing my current role, Associate Director- Talent Acquisition, supporting the B2B Sales Program. My career path is unique, and I didn’t follow the usual route. Instead, I learned it’s okay to see the path others have blazed but sometimes…it’s fun to get behind a bulldozer and create your own!

Chapter 3: Empowered and ready

Cory’s key ingredients – Don’t rain on my parade! (Yes, I am singing and dancing – lol)

During my journey at AT&T, I learned many valuable lessons that continue to shape my career. One of the best gifts given to me was always to build people up, share, and give back! Thanks to #LifeatATT, I will do just that!

Cory’s secret ingredients:

  • There’s no one like you! So be yourself!
  • Make time and invest in yourself. Do the things that are important to you. For me, I call this PMTF. Prayer, Meditation, Therapy, and Fun. All four make my smile just a tad brighter. What’s yours?
  • Build a Board of Directors! One of my mentors told me you should always have a board of directors. In our lives, they are known as friends and family. On my career board of directors, I have a Mentor – who provides me guidance and development. A Fan – my biggest cheerleader, someone to talk about you in rooms when you are not present. A Pusher – someone to hold you accountable if you get off track.
  • Words I live by: What God has for you is for you. There’s no need to worry, trust and have faith in the process.

There are so many mentors and leaders to thank for my journey. I am looking forward to the many opportunities at #LifeatATT, but somehow, I feel this is still… just the beginning.

Cheers #LifeAtATT!

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