The Way I See It

In 2014, Carmen Nava was named one of the top 100 most influential and notable Hispanic professionals in the IT industry by HITEC.

Carmen Nava honors the female leaders that came before her by continuing to foster women’s achievements at AT&T

High risk/high reward has been my experience at AT&T. I got my start as a summer intern with Pacific Bell before it merged with AT&T. After graduation, I was hired into an extremely competitive leadership development program, where the mission was to advance to a general management role within five years. If you didn’t make it, you were let go. The rotational assignment format of the program gave me a strong foundation for learning the business at every level, from customer service to human resources, marketing, and sales. Feeling out various departments through these assignments helped me understand what was required of a leader.

As a woman coming up through the ranks, it was very powerful to have other women role models within the company. This may not be true industry-wide, but at AT&T we are fortunate to have so many women at senior levels. The company also sponsors programs encouraging young girls and women to enter science, technology, engineering, and math fields. We want young women to see female executives in our labs and other technical teams, many of whom have multiple patents in their name. I’ve been lucky to work for a company that understands the importance of diversity and works to attract, retain, and promote talented women.

I felt humbled when I was named one of the leading Hispanic tech leaders in the country by the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) in 2013. I feel a responsibility to be a good role model. I don’t feel pressure, necessarily; it’s more like fuel to keep going, growing, and doing the work—and it definitely takes hard work. Those who came before me paved the road for me, and the way I see it, now it’s my turn to give back.

I’ve been involved with HACEMOS*, AT&T’s Hispanic employee resource group, for 20 years. I began as an advisor to a local chapter, and now I’m an advisor to the national board. One of my favorite things is to see the development and growth of younger employees. The group has lunch-and-learn events and mentorship programs, and it’s so exciting to celebrate my colleagues’ growth personally and professionally.

I admire the three-pronged approach that HACEMOS takes: professional growth, personal growth, and community engagement. Some of the most powerful work is being done by the group is in the educational arena, engaging young students and exposing them to careers at AT&T. I’m so proud of the impact we are having on students and the fund-raising being done to provide scholarships for students. I’m consistently gratified to know I work for a company with so many passionate people willing to donate their time and energy.

*HACEMOS was selected by Hispanic Executive’s guest editor, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, as one of his “Top 5 Hispanic ERGs” pick in this issue!