WWLF News and Annoucements

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  • 30 Jul 2021 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    Jennifer Winters, WWLF City Rep for Orange County/Los Angeles, CA since 2018

    Where did you get your start in the industry? What is your current role?

    Before Telecom, I worked for a retail car sales business as a manager, coming off my maternity leave after having my son. I realized maintaining a retail management career while being a first-time mom was not going to allow me the work life balance I was striving for. It took no time at all for me to fall in love with the industry and the ever changing environment. From there, I was able to be a part of the Verizon Wireless team in Irvine working for both the small cell and modifications teams. I now work as the Network Real Estate Department Manager for Tangent Inc. I manage an insanely motivated and intelligent team who continually strives to make the customer experience the best it can be.

    Why did you join WWLF?

    I joined WWLF to be a part of a community that is built on raising people up. So many times, in an industry that tends to be male dominated, you see competition amongst females, almost in a “there can only be one” fashion. WWLF is a place where I feel I would go out of my way to ensure I support and lift the women around me and those around me would do the same.

    What are your top 3 leadership lessons or advice?

    Take chances – Don’t be afraid to jump into something new with both feet, and even more so, don’t be afraid to fall. “I don’t know” are three incredibly powerful words.

    Learn often and talk less - Sometimes the best lessons you can learn are taught by the people around you, and more often those who work for you. Being a leader doesn’t always mean teaching or assigning items and tasks. Some of the best lessons I have learned have come from those who had little to no experience in a given subject and were not afraid to suggest. Ask questions instead of giving answers.

    Be passionate – Let a failure hurt a bit. Feel a win with excitement and pride. Share your passion and love for a position with those around you. Simon Sinek said “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Passion can be contagious.

    What does confidence mean to you?

    If you had asked me 10 years ago, I would have said confidence is the ability to be sure of yourself in any situation. To always have the right answer and to never be caught off guard. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, I feel confidence is the exact opposite. Confidence is the ability to say “I don’t know”. To seek out the answer, to ask for help, to never be afraid to fail. If you limit yourself to your own way of thinking and your personal knowledge base, you will never grow.

    How do you define success?

    Personally, I define my own success by the success of those who work with and for me. If I can lead my team to see a world that could exist, but doesn’t yet, and work with them to build it, then I would consider myself successful. There is nothing more rewarding than a team of people accomplishing something they never thought they could.

  • 30 Jul 2021 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Kristen Beckman

    Current and past leaders of the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum shared their thoughts and experiences about WWLF, women in the wireless industry, the importance of mentorship, and leadership advice during a panel at South Wireless Summit in Nashville. Amanda Cahill, President of WWLF, and Beth Martindale, Vice President, joined past presidents Carolyn Hardwick and Amelia DeJesus and past vice president Debra Mercier on the panel hosted by Carrie Charles, a WWLF executive director.

    Cahill opened the panel by talking about the importance of WWLF and its programs geared toward helping women share industry knowledge, expand their network and advance their careers. “My involvement in WWLF has helped to shape the woman I am today,”Cahill said. “The community at WWLF truly helped me build confidence, especially early on in my career, and gave me the opportunity to shine in areas that I was really uncomfortable stepping into. I think that’s the beauty of an organization like WWLF. It was my first experience seeing the power of how mentorship and guidance and leadership from those who have done it can shape a person’s career and life and truly change the path you are on and open your eyes to things that maybe you didn’t even realize were possible.”

    Cahill said one of the reasons she ran for president of WWLF was to give back to the organization from which she has gained so much. The other panelists also shared the value they’ve found in being involved with WWLF, including a strong network of women and men to learn from and lean on, programs that build confidence, and the power of connection.

    For Martindale, WWLF has provided support and empowerment. “I didn’t know what WWLF was when I joined. I knew it was a women’s organization but didn’t know what it represented. Under Carolyn’s guidance, she explained it’s not just about women, it’s not just about empowering women, it’s about empowering anyone who feels like they are not represented.”

    The panelists also reflected on the importance of women to the industry, especially in leadership roles.

    “Studies have proven when there’s a more diverse work environment, companies have more productivity, more creativity and honestly they are more profitable,” said Hardwick. “I think at this point in history we can’t ignore diversity and inclusion. Not only do we have to have gender diversity, but we have to have diversity across all environments, all races, religions. What I’m seeing more of is as we have more young folks coming into the industry, they bring a new set of skills and they show us new ways to problem solve and think critically, so I think it’s a challenge and an opportunity to have a diverse work environment.”

    Cahill noted that the more women are given opportunities in leadership roles in the industry, the more they are proving that they are capable of taking on those leadership responsibilities. She said one of her keys to successfully ascending to leadership roles was to watch people in positions that she wanted to be in and learn from the ways they interacted with people and executed their responsibilities.

    All of the panelists highlighted the importance of mentors to their own careers, and they encouraged young women in the industry to look for mentors and ask for help. They also encouraged tenured members of the industry to seek out opportunities to share their knowledge and experience with newer members of the industry. There is value to be gained on both sides of the mentorship equation, they said.

    "I was a lucky professional in the industry over the years,” said Mercier. “I found mentors and mentors found me. People became mentors and I didn’t ask them to be mentors. But you need to ask, and you need to put yourself out there and that’s what WWLF can do for you. We have a mentorship program. It’s about supporting one another, about bringing them up, making their circle of network stronger and being there for them even in the first steps of learning the industry.”

    DeJesus recalled how a mentor changed her career trajectory with a single but important piece of advice.

    “Once upon a time I was shy -- head down just working, and really invisible,” said DeJesus. “I did have a mentor -- a male -- remind me that I needed to be more visible. It was the best advice I ever had in my entire career because I realized that nobody knew who was getting the work done. You need to be visible. What I would tell folks is you need to really understand what you are seeking from mentorship, so identify how that mentorship is going to help you or what you want, then reach out to network and collaborate with folks in your network that can help tie you in with others with similar interests or can lead you in that direction that you would like to be.”

    To hear more from the panel, visit WWLF at South Wireless Summit 2021 - YouTube.

  • 05 Jul 2021 5:55 PM | Anonymous

    “…at the end of the day I just wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me…” Amanda Cahill, WWLF President

    Listen NOW on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or click here.

    The California Wireless Industry Association is a nonprofit association for people working in, and interested in advancing, the wireless industry in California. CALWA has been advancing the wireless industry, helping businesses grow, fostering connections between people, and impacting lives through the charities they support for over 10 years.

    On the May 25th episode of the CALWA Podcast, John Koos, Senior Vice President at Butler America Telecom LLC, sat down with Amanda Cahill, WWLF President

    Amanda talks about the history, purpose, and initiatives of WWLF.  She also talks about her personal career journey and how much WWLF means to her.  “My entire experience with WWLF has shaped the woman that I am today… gave me the opportunity to shine in areas that were outside of my comfort zone I was scared a lot, I was uncomfortable a lot, and that was my first real experience witnessing the power of mentorship and how surrounding yourself with people who thrive on collaboration can truly change the course of someone's life.”

    Amanda also states, “I knew, that by stepping into the role as President, I would be able to lean on and further expand my commitment to create an environment where all women feel empowered, where all women feel supported and are given opportunities for growth and Leadership and mentorship you know all the things that I had received and at the end of the day I just wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me in my career and my personal development and I wanted to leave a mark to help shape the future of other women who were in this industry.”

    Take a few moments to listen to the whole interview!

  • 05 Jul 2021 5:50 PM | Anonymous

    WWLF talks with Susie Poirier, Program Manager at LCC Telecom Services and WWLF Austin City Rep.  Susie has been the Austin City Rep from 2015-2019, and now also in 2021.

    Where did you get your start in the industry? What is your current role?

    I got my start in the industry in 2008 doing a one-month lease project for Diamond and T-Mobile through LCC Law.  I then started full time at LCC Telecom Services (formerly LCC Law), in 2010 as a site acquisition agent and Attorney.  I am now Program Manager for the company and continue to manage team members on various Site acquisition projects.

    Why did you join WWLF?

    I had attended some WWLF local events in Chicago at the Lynfred Winery in 2010.  As someone new in the industry, it was great to meet and connect with others, specifically women, in the industry. After attending some more events (local and national), I continued to be impressed by WWLF and wanted to be a part of it.

    How has being a part of WWLF impacted you personally or professionally?

    Personally, WWLF has helped to provide connections and friendships made through WWLF. WWLF also provided a sisterhood of women in wireless, and provides a common ground with other women or members. Professionally, not only have the connections made helped with the industry, but also the Lunch and Learn, other lectures, and online programs have helped to me to grow in my knowledge of the industry.

    How do you define success?

     From Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”.  Failure is inevitable. I think success is how we move on from our failures and the attitude we have.

    What do you like to do outside of work?

    I enjoy spending time with my family and enjoy hiking, traveling (although this has been limited since Covid) and cooking.

  • 05 Jul 2021 5:47 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Kristen Beckman

    Supplier diversity certifications are becoming an increasingly important part of doing business for women- and minority-owned businesses. Certifications guarantee to companies that suppliers they contract with or hire are, in fact, diverse.

    The Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum hosted a webinar about the topic, featuring real world scenarios and best practices for getting the most out of certifications. The panel was hosted by Lynn Whitcher and Courtney Davis, co-executive directors of education for WWLF. Panelists included Darretta Whitfield, Supplier Diversity Manager, Charter Communications; Debora Battaglia, Director of Business Development, LCC Telecom Services, LLC; Heather Cox, Co-Founder and President, Certify My Company; Karen Caldwell, President, Caldwell Compliance; and Shamrose Ali, Director of Operations, Texas Wireless Communication LLC.

    Whitfield said diversity is important to corporations, and specifically for Charter, because it brings people to the room with different backgrounds, different experiences, and different thought processes. “It adds to our ability to be creative and to be innovative and to solve problems and just to have a better product and service,” said Whitfield.

    Becoming certified can help women- and minority-owned businesses gain footing in competitive markets, and many companies are even requiring certification from their diverse suppliers. But the process to become certified isn’t always easy, and the benefits aren’t always immediately apparent, panelists said.

    Caldwell said her company became certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) early in its 21-year history and has since pursued other types of diversity certifications especially when clients request them. The process to become certified in some cases can be arduous and expensive but in other cases is easier, she said. Caldwell noted many certifications have networking and mentorship opportunities that can benefit those who apply. However, while the desire for companies to be certified is prevalent, whether certifications have translated into business, Caldwell said she’s not sure.

    Battaglia concurred, saying while LCC has obtained several diversity and local certifications, including WBENC, it’s difficult to quantify how much business has resulted from those certifications. “I can say maybe two times it may have gotten our foot in the door,” said Battaglia. Having a diversity certification can get companies on the list but not guarantee business, especially in a price-driven market, she said.

    Ali, who is focused on starting up a new business that provides outsourced project management and coordination for wireless companies, said she is spending her time networking with a goal of obtaining certifications in the future, because large companies in particular are looking for diverse suppliers.

    So how can diverse suppliers make the most out of their certifications? The panelists offered a few suggestions.

    1. Understand that certifications aren’t a guarantee of business or contracts. “It’s not a magic wand,” said Cox, whose company helps suppliers navigate the certification process. “The only thing certification is going to do is get you in the door, maybe make an introduction for you, and solidify some relationships. If it's you and somebody else in the bidding process, it may tip the scale. But you might never know that happens.” She noted that certifications can also lead to business indirectly through introductions and referrals that might not be evident on the surface.
    2. Know your target audience. Whitfield advises suppliers to do their research and make a relevant pitch to supplier diversity managers and procurement teams about how they can help meet the company’s needs. “If you connect those dots for me, and you can show me a valid certification that we care about, that will open the door to conversations,” said Whitfield, who runs Charter’s national supplier diversity program, including everything from training and education to making connections with suppliers and procurement teams. She said while companies care about diversity, the bottom line is they are looking for suppliers that can handle the volume and output they need and meet their requirements for keeping their business up and running, especially during the pandemic.
    3. Be strategic about which certifications to pursue. Because certifications in some cases can be expensive and time consuming, it’s important to be strategic about which ones to pursue. Not all certifications are created equal and which you pursue depends in large part on what you want to do with them, said Cox. Whitfield suggests researching which national, regional and state certifications target clients are involved in and prioritize those.
    4. You’ll get as much out of your certifications and partnerships as you put in. Many certification programs offer training, networking and mentorship opportunities that can benefit you directly through knowledge gained but also through contact with a network of people who can help you. Being engaged will place you top of mind when a company asks for referrals.
    5. Don’t be shy about mentioning your certification status. “If you're approaching our company and it's not something that we've been actively seeking, you need to lead with the fact that you're certified through these organizations that we're partners with so that we recognize it,” said Whitfield. “We won't know if you don't tell us.” Whitfield said certified companies should include that information on their website, mailings, capability statements and RFPs.
    6. Commit yourself to getting it done. Cox said there’s never going to be a good time to spend the time and money to get certified because there will always be more important things to focus on. But the certification process can take a long time – years in some cases – so it’s important not to wait. “You always want to be certified before you need it. Once you need it, it’s too late.”

    Whitfield relayed a certification success story about a supplier Charter worked with during the pandemic. The company needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and worked with Cox to identify a supplier who had been in the fashion industry for 16 years. The supplier had lost millions of dollars of business when large retailers cancelled their orders when COVID hit and was switching gears to supplying PPE to corporations. Charter awarded her a $4 million contract and helped her obtain a diversity certification that she was then able to leverage along with referrals into more business for PPE in the corporate arena. She went on to win a $46 million contract with the military to supply uniforms for the Marine Corps.

    “The 16 years prior, she had no reason and didn't really see the value of getting certified until she needed to pivot her business and shift into other areas,” said Whitfield. “That was a windfall for her and saved her from having to let go of 16 employees to being able to hire five more and carry on for the next five years. So, I think it's worthwhile depending on what your business strategy is and how you can leverage it.”

  • 28 May 2021 1:23 PM | Anonymous

    Review by: Amanda Cahill

    Want to achieve more success in your career? Worried your current actions and habits might be holding you back from achieving the success you deserve? If so, How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith might be the book for you.

    Helgesen and Goldsmith team up to examine the most common behaviors that can get in the way of future success for women. The book showcases that men and women typically present different self-limiting behaviors in business, with women more likely to take on too much work and take too little credit for their achievements.

    Brought to life with examples and stories, Helgesen and Goldsmith examine the twelve habits holding women back and they suggest the reader take aim at two or three of their own most damaging habits rather than address them all. The authors also emphasize that some of the behaviors, including perfectionism, building relationships and overvaluing expertise, might have served women well earlier in their careers but often hinder development as women move up the corporate ladder.

    Of the twelve habits outlined in the book, the five listed below stood out the most as either behaviors in myself or in other women in my network:

    1. Reluctance to Claim Your Achievements:
    This one may seem out of place because women often deliver great work. And yet, many women struggle to draw attention to their achievements and successes. To take it even further, some women can even find it hard to accept praise or will make a habit of turning the spotlight of attention to someone else on their team. This could be because some women don’t want to seem self-promoting or because they assume the good work will speak for itself. It’s noted in the book that “moving ahead—rising—requires bold action.” If women do not communicate the substance of their work and the value of their achievements, especially to those in positions above them, they may be thought to lack confidence in their ability or be ambivalent about rising through the organization. The authors suggest that women should think about their value to the organization, why their success matters and what greater good they can do if they are able to rise to higher positions of influence and impact.

    2. Overvaluing Expertise:
    “Trying to master every detail of your job in order to become an expert is a great strategy for keeping the job you have. But if your goal is to rise to a higher level, your expertise is probably not going to get you there.” The authors state that a woman’s expertise in lower level jobs may have gotten her to where she is today, but “the top jobs always require managing and leading people who have expertise, not providing expertise yourself.” Furthermore, women need to focus on four kinds of power as they rise. In addition to expertise, women need to learn the power of connection (who you know), personal authority or confidence (a strong presence) and the power of holding a senior position. Expertise alone is not enough to open doors to an organization’s top levels of leadership.

    3. Building Rather than Leveraging Relationships: “Whilst women are often stellar relationship builders, they tend to be less skilled at leveraging relationships” and “leveraging relationships is key to achieving professional success.” While women are often excellent at building relationships they can be noticeably reluctant to leverage those relationship. There are many reasons this might apply to you—often it is connected to an aversion to be seen as someone who “uses” people. Most great careers are built not just on talent or hard work, but on the mutual exchange of benefits and if you refuse to leverage the relationships you’ve built in pursuit of your goals, you might diminish your ability to reach your full potential. While this may sound crass to some women, the authors once again warn against either-or thinking (a common theme found in the book). Authentic friendships can have intrinsic rewards and extrinsic, win-win benefits for both parties involved.

    4. Putting Your Job Before Your Career:
    The authors note two reasons women feel stuck in their job:

    (1) People take note of how dedicated she is to her position and how she excels at it;
    (2) Personal loyalty or over commitment to her team

    When women begin to feel stuck in a position they often see others, notably men, advancing and, in turn, they adapt a strategy to double down on their daily work to the neglect of working on their careers. In addition, women might express the kind of loyalty to the job that she might show toward her family. The authors urge women to assess potential jobs and to choose specific tasks in terms of how any given job can serve their self-interests and their careers. In doing so, women should give their best work, but they should also do their best to have a great career and a great life. Once again, either-or thinking can create a trap for women who hope to rise to higher levels in their careers.

    5. Minimizing: Are you making yourself smaller either literally by the way you sit around the table or by taking a seat in the back? Do you use minimizing language, such as apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong or using works like “just”, “only”, “small” and “quick”, as in “I just have one small thing to add…?” The authors suggest women may unknowingly minimize their presence and impact simply by moving aside in meetings to make room for others, as well as unwittingly making themselves smaller by squeezing into a circle (when men allow others to adjust to their space). These are not character flaws, but minimizing, softening, shrinking, and ceding space are habits that can hold back a woman on the rise. Your body language and words need to assure everyone you know you are meant to be in the room and you are owning your decisions.

    Whether for your own development or to enrich the conversations when leading others in your organization, How Women Rise is an inspiring and practical resource. All twelve habits are well worth a read, and the examples bring to life the many ways these behaviors can get in the way and the different experiences senior women have had in responding to them. The book wraps up with how to take the first step and how to sustain the effort over time.

    Want to learn more about the 12 habits outlined in the books? Please join us Wednesday, June 9th for the WWLF Book Read as we take a deep dive into How Women Rise!

  • 28 May 2021 12:20 PM | Anonymous

    Tara Rand is the WWLF City Rep for Boston/New England.

    Where did you get your start in the industry? What is your current role?
    I am blessed to have spent my entire 30+ year telecom career at 3 wonderful organizations in New England: Verizon Wireless (10 years), Crown Castle (19 years) and now for over 3 years at national veteran services provider, SAI Group, headquartered in Salem, NH.

    Early on, I dreamed of a life in politics, as a State Rep or Senator specifically, so I majored in Political Science and Communications at Regis College-Weston, MA.   My 1st job out of college was working in Boston’s State House for a State Rep but I soon realized how politically connected you had to be in Massachusetts and I was not, being from the very small town of Ridgefield, Connecticut.  I just happened to have a friend mention to me that Bell Atlantic (now Verizon Wireless) was looking to staff up their new wireless division so I was intrigued, went for the job and was hired...the rest is history!  

    Most of my time at Verizon Wireless was spent in the Engineering Department.  I worked in RF Design where I was focused on Regulatory matters and network designs and also in Real Estate/Site Acq, leasing up and permitting their core infrastructure throughout New England.  Verizon Wireless ultimately entered into a Joint Venture with Crown Castle and I was asked to join Crown Castle’s Sales Team to lease up and generate services revenue on their assets in New England/CT, Canada and Upstate NY.  The transition was seamless in that I was working with all of the same assets and team members, many of whom I am still friends with to this day.  At Crown Castle, I also held the roles of District Manager-NE/Upstate NY and National Sales Account Executive working with large emerging technologies clients as well as the local wireless carriers in New England.

    What are your top 3 leadership lessons or advice?
    Give Back…Being elected & re-elected by my industry peers as the current President of the New England Wireless Association (NEWA), being asked to assume the City Rep-New England/Boston role for WWLF and becoming a NATEWon Mentor are the highlights of my career as all enable me to give back to our industry in some way.   Helping to establish the new NEWA Scholarship Fund and Co-Chairing the Annual NEWA Charity Golf Event for past two years are of special importance to me as the monies raised is given back to those connected to the wireless industry.  Over the years, these three organizations have all played major roles within the wireless industry and I am proud to be associated with them.  

    Be Honest…It’s my trademark in work and life, no exceptions.

    Ask…Be inquisitive, ask questions to learn more or understand something better, see if you can help someone or solve a problem(s) by providing possible solutions.  My desire to fully understand the wireless world continues to lead me down a variety of paths, some very challenging, all of which I have and will continue to embrace and learn from.  Knowledge is key, don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn more every day.  

    How has being a part of WWLF impacted you personally or professionally?
    I became a member of WWLF early on in my career as it was a great opportunity to get more involved within the industry and build new relationships.   In addition to being the City Rep, I recently joined the Industry Relations team and am helping with Membership as well.  Being a WWLF member has opened doors to new relationships within the industry which have proven to be invaluable. 

    My proudest membership moment is when SAI Group hosted an educational event at our office in New Hampshire…the weather wasn’t very good that evening but we ended up having an excellent turn-out for the event and it was a huge success!

    How do I define career success?
    Success to me isn’t about how many awards and/or prizes you win during your career, it’s more encompassing than that in my opinion. 

    Success to me is about the true trust-based friendships and relationships established along the way.  It’s about loving what you do and the industry you are in.  It is also about being grateful for opportunities that you create or come your way.  It’s giving back however and whenever you can.  It’s about happiness, being joyful and in the best health you can be in.  It’s about being blessed to work in a safe and healthy work environment with exceptional leadership.  And it’s about the innate desire to learn more and always do better, every day.

  • 28 May 2021 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Kristin Beckman

    COVID-19 changed the way we communicate in professional situations. When much of the world’s workforce was sent home to work remotely during the beginnings of the pandemic, and travel was restricted, the use of video conferencing platforms like Zoom skyrocketed. According to data compiled by Owl Labs, 60 percent of people reported using video tools more often as a result of COVID-19 than they had in the past, outpacing other well-established collaboration tools like e-mail.

    There was awkwardness, in some cases, as video conferencing newbies quickly learned to navigate the new world of communicating from home with a webcam rather than face to face in a board room. YouTube is full of examples of sometimes hilarious examples of video conference stumbles, including a lawyer who showed up to virtual court in the 394th district of Texas earlier this year with a kitten filter turned on. “I’m not a cat,” he said, while struggling to switch the filter off.

    As a society, we’ve learned to give each other grace as we’ve collectively learned how to use video conferencing during the past year. And even as employees begin to slowly return to the office, business travel and in-person meetings, video conferencing is certainly here to stay. As such, it’s important to put your best foot forward in virtual business situations.

    Last month, WWLF hosted leadership strategist Barbara Teicher, CSP, in a webinar about presenting your best self in a virtual environment. Following is her advice along with some other best practices on using video conferencing platforms.

    • Teicher recommends keeping the P.A.D. principles in mind when preparing for a virtual meeting or event. P – What is the purpose of the meeting? A—Who is the audience? D – What are the details? Remember that strong visuals are more important in a virtual environment than in other forms of communication like email. Consider how you want your audience to feel and what you want them to do as a result of your presentation. And of course, know the time, date and platform where your meeting or event is taking place.

    • Rehearsing is also key to a successful virtual presentation, said Teicher. Take care of practical details in advance, like checking your internet connection and making sure your sound and microphone work. Set up a pleasing and professional environment, including having additional lighting and shutting blinds to eliminate distracting shadows on your face. Log in early so you have time to troubleshoot any issues.

    • Ensure the name on the screen is your name and not a nickname or made up name you’ve used in previous meetings, said Teicher. Have contingency plans, including having a phone ready to call in as a backup in case your computer fails.

    • Working from home can feel like casual Friday every day, but you’ll make your best impression if you dress, wear makeup and style your hair as if you were going to be presenting at an in-person meeting or event. Experts advise that plain colors often go over better in virtual environments than patterns like plaid. If nothing else, make sure you wear pants, a lesson that ABC News Reporter Will Reeve learned the hard way.

    • Consider what’s behind you. One of the most interesting developments to come out of the pandemic has been seeing what’s in everybody’s home office. Lots of people like to have shelves in their background, but that can sometimes be distracting, experts say. Plain and simple backgrounds are perhaps boring but often the best choice for the virtual environment. And from a privacy and security standpoint, it’s always a good idea to make sure sensitive information isn’t visible in the camera’s view.

    • Position yourself optimally in your webcam’s field of view to avoid looking distorted. Having your face too close to the camera will distort the image of your face, and having the camera positioned too low will give the audience a view up your nose. Eye level usually provides the most appealing perspective.

    • By some accounts, ‘You are still on mute’ became the most common phrase of 2020. Make sure you are muted when not talking to avoid introducing unwanted background noise to the conference and be ready to unmute when it’s your turn to speak. Zoom allows you to toggle between muted and unmuted by tapping the space bar on your computer.

    Join WWLF and Barb Teicher June 10 for more video conferencing tips during an exclusive webinar for WWLF members focused on how interviewing has changed in a virtual environment. Click here to register: https://www.wwlf.org/event-4303360

  • 04 May 2021 11:42 AM | Anonymous

    “A CFO goes to their CEO and asks, 'What if we train our employees and they leave?' The CEO responds, 'What if we don’t and they stay?'"

    About Terri Tidwell:

    Terri Tidwell is a Director of Project Controls for SQUAN’s engineering division. Having grown up with both parents working in the telecom industry, Terri got her foot in the industry’s door as a manual drafter. From there, her path to project management excellence was paved by demonstrating a high degree of competitiveness, developing empathy through hands-on experience for her crews, and gaining the loyalty of her techs in the field by training and developing their skillsets.

    Tell me, how did you get to where you are?

    My parents were already working in the telecom space, and I first got started as a manual drafter. My stepmom, who worked for Southern Bell at the time, went to a contractor and said, “Can you please give my daughter a job?” Back then, everyone got a job in the telecom industry based on who they knew. There wouldn’t be a telecom industry without nepotism in the early days. But I worked twice as hard just to prove myself.

    From there, it was fairly organic. This was before PMP certifications or anything like that, but by the time I was officially a Project Manager, I could already talk to clients knowledgeably about the work and drive other folks to get their work done. And I think a lot of what project management is is really just common sense and that desire to be a bit more organized. For me, disorganization just drives me nuts. So, I’d step into situations that need help and clean them up.

    How do you stay so organized?

    Well, you really have to stay in touch with the progress of each project, and back then I thought Excel was my saving grace because before that I kept everything in notebooks, sticky notes, bulletin boards — all that kind of stuff. So I thought Excel was the be-all-end-all until SQUAN adopted Sitetracker. Now I keep everything in Trackers! It’s all clean and streamlined so that you can immediately see where the problems are. And that's one of the things I love about Sitetracker is that the conditional formatting is already built into it so you can see when things are starting to go sideways. I just finished the Sitetracker Certification course too, and the more I learn about it the more excited I am. It’s game-changing for me and my whole team.

    What lesson in project management do you most want to share?

    When it comes to managing upwards, transparency is a huge one. Everyone loves to hear good news; the bad news is much tougher. Don’t wait until the last minute to bring it up. Give the bad news when it occurs - ideally at least three days in advance of its impact. You know, if you’re not going to make a deadline, tell somebody before the due date. Not every project is going to run smoothly. You’re going to run into hurdles, but the sooner you can call out problems the better the news will be received, and ultimately resolved.

    What’s the biggest misconception people have about project management in telecom?

    Back when PMP certifications first became a thing, companies were hiring people that knew nothing about the work or the people they were trying to manage. The basic idea of the PM role was someone pushing spreadsheets. In my opinion, this was very wrong. There’s no formula for successful project management, but there are characteristics you have to have, including an understanding of the industry, knowledge of the work, and empathy for the crews in the field.

    That last one is very important. I’ve been there. I used to do fieldwork as a field engineer, so I was out there in the trenches staying in hotel rooms for weeks, sometimes months at a time. You have to remember your crews are people. They’re probably missing out on time with their families by being there, working for you. They could get stuck in Minnesota because their engine blocks froze because they don’t know that they need to winterized their vehicle for those kinds of working conditions.

    The people in the field make or break a project, not the person sitting behind a computer, so you have to treat them well.

    What’s the biggest industry shift that you’re anticipating?

    It’s already happening - a talent shortage. I see headcount as the biggest strategic challenge to the industry in the near future. Companies have to start hiring fresh employees and be willing to train them. It’s like the story where the CFO goes to the CEO and asks, “what if we train them and they leave?” And the CEO responds, “what if we don’t and they stay?” If you don’t train your folks, they’re going to jump ship two years from now for another couple of bucks. But if you take in folks and you're willing to train them, allow them to make mistakes, and give them opportunities to learn new things, you're always going to have a wealth of talent and loyal people. It just takes a time investment. But if you don't start now, in 5 or 10 years you're going to have folks retiring with nobody replacing them.

    How do you measure your success?

    Well, everyone lives and dies by their revenue and their budget — you know, the dollar sign. But in order to achieve that, the number one thing is reliability. That’s what we really pride ourselves on at SQUAN. All of our PMs have pretty strict due dates and high-quality standards. SQUAN actually won’t accept work that we know we can’t complete. We see other companies making that mistake, and when they don’t deliver, the client will come to us instead because they know we’ll get it done. Reputation is everything. All it takes is one bad word and you may never recover.

    What’s your secret to great management and building, training, or developing a great crew?

    This one’s tricky because a lot of management success is intangible, so it has to come from within. I’m often asking myself how I feel at the end of the day. When it comes to my team, I think fostering open and honest dialogue is key. My success is my team’s success, and that applies to every individual in the company. We celebrate each other all the time, but most importantly we’re not afraid to call each other out on mistakes. We do this in kind of a joking way though, and that’s really important. You don’t want to make people feel bad for making a mistake, and calling one out with humor has been really effective. In the same way, you also want to have your teammates bounce ideas off of each other.

    This happens here at SQUAN at the executive level too! I actually look forward to our management meetings — something very few people can say honestly. But here’s the thing: I’m usually most excited for what comes after the meeting, just grabbing a drink afterward with everyone and sharing stories.

    What’s your favorite story to share?

    That’s a tough one. I don’t have a favorite story per se, but I do love telling this one: I was out in the field in Louisiana, and there was some concrete-encased fiber cable that had to lower for a DOT project. So we had to break the cable out of the concrete before we could actually lower it. Since there was a risk of damaging the cable, we had to use a sleeve on the jackhammer and had to keep the blade parallel to the direction of the cable.

    Now here I am, fresh on site and I didn’t know any of the guys down in the hole. I’m keeping an eye on the guy doing the hammering, and I see him start to turn the jackhammer to get an easier but riskier angle. Of course, I’m shouting and shouting, but he can’t hear me over the sound of the jackhammer. Finally, I resort to grabbing a handful of pebbles off the ground and bouncing them, one at a time, off his hard hat. I continued to do this for each operator for the duration of the project.

    The whole crew got such a kick out of my “creative communication” that when it came time to eat, they bought me lunch (by the way: my first “boudin”). I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes you’ve really just got to do what you got to do, and people will respect you for it.

    Do you know a fantastic project manager? Someone who hits deadlines, has stories to share, can get around any roadblock, and pushes projects over the line? We want to feature them in our Projects Are Life series. Shoot us an email and tell us why they are awesome at PaL@sitetracker.com.

  • 04 May 2021 11:37 AM | Anonymous

    Sara Muehlberger is the WWLF City Rep based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has held this position since January 2019.

    What has been the best experience you’ve had with WWLF?

    The best experience I’ve had (so far) with WWLF was the time we joined forces with the Georgia Wireless Association for a day of volunteering at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Within the 4 short hours we worked together, we ended up sorting and packing over 9,400 pounds of food that would provide over 6,700 meals to people in need – right here in our community. How awesome is that?

    What are your top 3 leadership lessons or advice?

    If I were to give 3 leadership tips of advice, they would be: 1. Train and mentor the up-and-coming professionals; it’s important to understand you cannot do it all and it’s good to delegate. 2. Step outside of your comfort zone and say yes to tasks that scare you! This is how we grow as professionals. 3. Take your PTO. It’s important to work hard and be dedicated, but it’s equally important to take care of yourself and enjoy downtime.

    What do you like to do outside of work?

    When I am not working, you can find me with my family. I have an amazing husband, Darren, who has been by my side for 19 years, and we have two incredible children, Bradley and Caspian. As a family, we enjoy traveling, cooking & baking, and spending time outdoors. I also enjoy volunteering within our community; I am the VP of the MVHS Men’s Lacrosse Board in addition to managing the MVAA Lightning Boys lacrosse team.

    How do you define success?

    Success to me is when you set your mind to something and achieve it or give it your best. Success doesn’t always come in the form of money or things, but rather as knowledge and growth.

    What does confidence mean to you?

    To me, confidence is when you don’t look to others for approval or acceptance. This one took me a long time to figure out. I do not need others to accept me; however, I do look at others for guidance and growth. I am who I am, and I’m completely ok with that.

    How would you describe yourself in three words?

    •        Altruistic
    •        Devoted
    •        Humble

    Where did you get your start in the industry? What is your current role?

    It was by chance that I sort of fell into telecommunications. I had previously worked in the financial industry and took some time off to enjoy motherhood after my second child was born. When I started looking to get back into the professional world, a friend knew someone who was looking to hire a candidate with financial experience, so I decided to apply. Little did I know I would find my home here at Terracon as an employee-owner! I’ve been with Terracon for almost 7 years, and I am currently a National Account Manager within our telecommunications sector.

    What is your favorite Quote?

    “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien

    How do you see the future of the industry?

    I think telecommunications is a very in-demand industry and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Due to the unfortunate circumstances with Covid-19, many people quickly realized how crucial infrastructure within telecom was. We all needed faster speeds with more availability to those in rural areas – and the demand for 5G only increased. With so many employers moving to a more remote work atmosphere in the coming years, the demand for faster, better, smarter networks will only continue to increase. 

    If you could meet anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?

    If I could meet anyone, it would have to be Steve Harvey. The man is absolutely hysterical, but he’s also a great motivational speaker. He tells it like it is and has such a way with people. I feel like we’d have a great time chatting it up and laughing the day away.

    Why did you join WWLF?

    I joined WWLF to grow my network with other like-minded professionals. I enjoy volunteering and found that many of the planned events were to give back in some way (clothing drives, donated goods, etc.). I truly believe it’s so important to see a need and fill that need within your community.

    How has being a part of WWLF impacted you personally or professionally?

    Being part of WWLF has significantly grown my network and helped me professionally. I’ve arranged and attended IMPACT events with amazing speakers and have learned many valuable work and life lessons. Being the Atlanta City Rep has pushed me outside of my comfort zone (at times) and has helped me step up and learn to lead. 

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