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Samantha Moctezuma says her parents emphasized the value of education from childhood. They worked hard to send her sister and her to a private school, which she says set her up for success. She’s the first person in her family to graduate from college.
“My parents started a family very young. Their focus was on building careers for themselves rather than school, just to be sure that they could provide a better lifestyle for my sister and me,” Moctezuma says. “They’ve always been my greatest support system and encouraged me while I worked to navigate that entire [college] experience,” Moctezuma says.
Yet it didn’t quite turn out as expected. Moctezuma began her college experience studying to become a dermatologist, only to realize that her true passion was in finance. With that knowledge, she applied for a summer internship—at Verizon.
“I grew up in a Verizon household before it was even called Verizon. My father started as a field associate technician and my mother was a customer service rep,” says Moctezuma. “I grew up knowing that Verizon was a company that would provide what I needed for a rewarding career.”
As an intern, Moctezuma gained a network of people who welcomed her, and encouraged her development. “They nurtured me in a different way than I ever imagined,” says Moctezuma. Fifteen years later, Moctezuma is still at Verizon, having built her career there. Today, she serves Verizon Business as the vice president of financial planning and analysis, leading a team of over 200 finance professionals and reporting directly to the CFO of Verizon Business.
“I can’t believe it’s already been fifteen years,” says Moctezuma. “At the same time, it’s not surprising. I’ve been able to build skills and gain knowledge here that most people would have to jump from one company to another to gain. I’ve been able to drive cost efficiencies, work on acquisitions, commercial decisioning, transformation execution, and lead capital and profit and loss planning. And Verizon has supported me every step of the way, including covering my tuition while I earned my master’s in accounting.”
However, that’s not the only reason she’s stayed. “More importantly, what keeps me here is the people,” Moctezuma says. “The relationships built from early on in my career and throughout are what’s special here. It’s all molded me to be the effective leader and impactful decision-maker I am today.”
Today, her mission is to continue building and providing that community of people for others at Verizon—and especially for women in finance.
“From time to time, I’ll meet someone who mentions how I’ve inspired them. That leads me to take a step back and realize that I have a responsibility to share my experiences and knowledge, as a working mother, as a Hispanic woman, as a first-generation college graduate,” she says. “I’ve had amazing mentors and sponsors. It’s my turn to pay that forward. I need to be able to create that same path for other women in the business.”
Moctezuma sees it as her duty to make space and be the representation for other women. As part of this, she and her colleagues built Verizon’s Women in Finance group, which Moctezuma still sponsors today.
“Understanding if [the women in the group] feel like they know how to navigate their career was a great starting point,” Moctezuma says. “Every journey is different, but if you can find common themes and fill the tool kit with the tools to succeed, then that just shows we’re making a dent.”
When it comes to offering advice for that tool kit, Moctezuma divides it into two: the personal and the professional. When it comes to the personal, Moctezuma says she feels particularly lucky.
“I’m fortunate to have an amazingly supportive family. My husband is my biggest champion, and that’s really important to me. We’re both working parents, and we’re very honest with one another about that. Whenever either of us is considering a career move, we discuss together what it would mean. For example, if I’m taking on a new role, can he take on more at home for a few months while I get up to speed? And vice versa. Having those conversations is key,” she explains.
“From a professional standpoint, remember to bet on yourself and be intentional about the roles you take,” Moctezuma says. “Not only should it be about helping the company, but it should also be about gaining a new network, a new skill, or meeting your career objectives. And if you do take on a new role or project, always remember that you’re in the room for a reason.”