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How a Vogue Hopeful Became a Telecom Leader with Elizabeth Hunter

How does a 20-something Vogue hopeful end up driving huge initiatives and leading teams at telecom giants AT&T and T-Mobile? Find out in our latest episode of Inspired Execution, featuring senior technology executive Elizabeth Hunter

Finding mentors in unlikely places

When Elizabeth Hunter started college, her sights were set on becoming a journalist. Her ultimate dream was to be the Editor in Chief of a popular fashion magazine called Vogue. But somewhere along the way, Elizabeth realized that she didn’t want to just write about things other people do – she wanted to actually do things herself.

After finishing her undergraduate education, Elizabeth got a job as a temporary secretary in an IT department. She wasn’t entirely sure of where her career would take her at this point, and when her boss suggested she get a job in IT, she wasn’t thrilled at the prospect. 

“I looked him dead in the face and said, ‘Yeah, right.’ Luckily, he didn't throw me out of his office, because this was a guy who had dedicated his career to being in IT,” Elizabeth said. 

After some more thought and conversation, Elizabeth decided to take the IT role at a small company called American Electric Power. This seemingly minor decision was the turning point that set Elizabeth on the path to becoming an SVP at AT&T. She found her first mentor in Tom Morgan and worked with him at multiple organizations for many years to come.

“God knows where I would be now had that not happened. I think about it all the time – how Tom believed in me and saw something that I didn't. He gave me an opportunity when I had literally no experience,” Elizabeth said.

Creating a culture of belonging

An important but often overlooked aspect of diversity and inclusion is helping people feel like they belong. Belonging goes beyond just hiring diverse individuals and including them in important conversations, decisions, etc. It is about making others feel safe and accepted for being themselves. 

“I talk about my career journey because that makes people feel like they belong. I talk about things that I've screwed up, mistakes that I have made. I make fun of myself a lot. I use humor. People want that real authentic, experience with the leader because then they feel like they can be real and authentic also,” said Elizabeth. 

A sense of belonging doesn’t just make for a strong and healthy company culture, it also paves the way for great leaders and innovative solutions. Looking back on her career, Elizabeth noted that the times she was most successful were not when she was trying to be like somebody else. Rather, she made the most impact when she showed up as her true self. 

Tune in!

Tune in to the full episode to hear more about Elizabeth’s unconventional career journey, how we can all help drive more women into positions of power, and how overcoming fear is key to bridging divides. You can find Inspired Execution on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

Next up on September 6, Kelly Battles will join us for a conversation on risk-taking, intentional prioritization, and the biggest mistakes companies make in regards to execution. 

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