Director – Data Platform, AT&T
Texas Christian University (MBA)
TBHF Scholar Award Recipient, 2015
This month TBHF is spotlighting Stephanie Stare, a 2015 Alumni from Texas Christian University. We asked Stephanie, a Director at ATT’s Data Platform based out of New York, to share some of her best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
How did growing up in Texas influence your career and entrepreneurial drive?
I grew up in Dallas, I attended undergrad in Austin at The University of Texas, and then I got my MBA in Fort Worth at TCU. I always knew that there were endless opportunities in the state that I was from and got to experience that first-hand, living and working in so many different cities. I knew that I could make a successful career for myself in the state that I love, so growing up in Texas was definitely a driving force in my future career decisions. It also doesn’t hurt that Texas is a state with a thriving economy and a GDP larger than most countries.
Can you talk about your career path within AT&T and how that experience has helped you develop your professional and leadership skills?
I’ve been with AT&T for over five years, since completing my MBA. I joined AT&T as an intern between my first and second year of business school in their Leadership Development Program. I was fortunate enough to receive an offer at the end of summer.
The Leadership Development Program consists of three rotations over the course of 28 months. The program is designed to expose you to distinct and unique areas of the business, as well as leaders and teams within in the broader enterprise. Everyone starts in a frontline role, so I started in Network Operations managing a team of engineers in a Central Office in San Francisco. Through my rotations I also got to work in the Chief Data Office and Corporate Sponsorships in Dallas. When I graduated from the program, I was promoted to Chief of Staff for the Chief Brand Officer of Global Marketing.
Two years later I relocated to New York when I was promoted to be the Director Chief of Staff for the CEO of Xandr, AT&T’s ad-tech business. I’m currently back in the Chief Data Office as a Director building our unified, cloud-enabled data platform and developing the company’s data governance strategy.
What really drew me to AT&T, and why I’ve enjoyed working here so much, is that I’ve been able to have multiple careers within the same company. With these rotations and starting in new roles post-program, it does feel like starting a new job because you are working with a completely new team. It is such a large company that you can really reinvent yourself. It’s all about how much you want to learn. Technology is constantly evolving, so it comes down to having excellent leadership skills, a good work ethic, and a desire to learn the subject matter.
The opportunity to work in a number of distinct areas of the business, as well as live in three different cities has been incredible. At AT&T, they say “all roads lead back to Dallas” (where they’re headquartered), so I do see myself ending up back in Texas one day.
What has been the greatest lesson you have learned so far in your career?
Own your destiny. It’s important to network and build relationships, but at the end of the day, if you want something, you have to make it happen for yourself. Don’t expect it to come from someone else. I feel that is what differentiates people. You can’t wait for the opportunity to be given to you; you have to go after it. You need to advocate for yourself, especially at a large company. Be vocal about what you want next and be your own greatest champion.
One of TBHF’s core values is excellence. How do you define “excellence” in business?
I like to think of excellence through the lens of operational excellence. And by that, I mean people who are good at details and communication. When you have a meeting with this person, they are on time, they have clearly outlined the purpose and objectives of the meeting, action items and next steps are assigned, and there is consistent follow up and communication taking place afterwards. From my experience in chief of staff roles, this was critical in our success. These are simple steps and behaviors, but this way of working ensures a more consistent and productive workflow for the team. When you know you can rely on someone to follow through it makes all the difference.
How has TBHF helped you in your professional journey?
Being a part of this network is really inspiring. I’ve enjoyed being able to meet so many people and attend such a wide variety of events whether it be a virtual Titan Talk, the annual Induction ceremony, or a city-based get-together. I find it particularly interesting to learn about what is going on in other industries. We have so many members in real estate, oil and gas, supply chain, and so forth. Now that the world is becoming more unified with technology, I see more overlap in the business world. No matter what industry you are in, it is incredibly valuable to have a deep understanding of other industries, and we have so many experts in our TBHF network. Being around like-minded individuals who share that drive is incredible.