Although this story is about me, so much of my story began with women before me. They made tough choices and worked long days and nights. They have proved that not only can women succeed in male dominant fields, they can thrive!
Learning from Example
I was born to teenage parents in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin. My mom finished high school and got a job as a receptionist at a car dealership. As I was growing up, my parents were too. They got married when I was 2; and you bet I made an adorable flower girl! Although they both worked full time jobs, we struggled financially, and we moved A LOT. I couldn’t count on all my fingers and toes how many times we moved. Eventually, my parents separated when I was about nine.
At that time, my grandparents became an integral part of my life. My grandma, or Grams as I called her, would come over every night after work to help me with homework and make me dinner while my mom was at work. Grams worked as a project manager and was traveling the world managing the installation of municipal water treatment facilities. She led teams of highly skilled, technical engineers, and worked on projects for some of the largest cities in the world.
My grandpa gave my mom the same advice he gave me, “when you meet someone, look them dead in the eye, and give them a good, firm handshake.” That advice made her a force to be reckoned with on the car lot. She was a top performer, and advanced into the finance department. With her success, my mom was able to purchase her first home and I was able to see her hard work paying off.
The confidence they demonstrated when taking on roles in historically male-dominated fields encouraged me to do the same. In my younger years, I got into sales immediately. I worked for one of our competitors in a retailer setting, the only female in my location; one of two in the whole state. From a sales associate I was quickly promoted to assistant manager, then store manager. Then at a different retailer for the same company, I became a District Training Store Manager. I was the Manager of up to 3 locations at once, and was responsible for onboarding all new hires for all district locations.
I met an AT&T employee through a Facebook group based around a mutual interest. We worked on a couple projects together outside of work and remained in touch. Occasionally, he would send me a message about this new position at AT&T that I “just had to try out.” After almost a year of these messages, I applied to be an In Home Expert (Field Sales Representative) in Milwaukee. I got the job! I was immediately immersed in all things AT&T.
There weren’t many women working in the field as sales reps or technicians. I was fortunate to have strong male allies that supported me in my role. I began working alongside technicians in the field, and was becoming increasingly interested in the physical network infrastructure. I decided to act on that curiosity and went back to my local technical college and obtained an associates degree in the Network Specialist Program. I went to school full time online and got it done in one year since I already held an associates in Business Management from the same school.
The next year, a new manager took over our team. He encouraged me to nominate myself for the Management Development Program (MDP) to take my career to the next level. In 2020, I participated in, and graduated from, MDP. The program is an intense development course with in-person and virtual elements, spanning over several months. The program focuses on developing growth mindset, personal brand, daily habits for success, and implementing AT&T’s culture pillars.
During MDP, I set the goal of becoming a network manager in my area. Lucky for me, there was an opening. I applied, and I didn’t get the job. There was another opening; I applied. This time, I got an interview. I used all the resources available to me to prepare, knocked the interview out of the park, and was offered the position.
Courage and Determination
I am the only female network manager in Wisconsin. This doesn’t intimidate me. I have gone through the manager safety certification. I’ve done pole and ladder climbing. Basically, anything they will let me do, I take the opportunity to learn. I lead a team of 14 premise technicians — many of whom are new to the company. My responsibility is to provide them the tools and training needed perform their work safely, and in an environmentally-responsible manner, while providing excellent service to our customers.
As a member of the employee resource group oxyGEN, I became Director of Volunteerism in 2021. In just six months, I organized a food collection at AT&T locations locally, a digital food drive, raised funds for our scholarship fund through Milwaukee Bucks ticket sales, and organized a new member, end-of-year celebration. I also am a proud member of our Women In Network employee network.
Every opportunity I have to learn and grow I jump on. I spend very little time worrying about the outcome; I just face each new challenge with courage and determination. Looking back at it all, I wouldn’t change a thing.Discover Opportunities with AT&T