Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Summit allowed some of the top minds in the nation to share insight on the future of innovation. Held in Silicon Valley, the summit featured rising tech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and Fortune 500 executives.
Jennifer Jones of AT&T was one of the leading executives in attendance. With over 28 years of experience at AT&T, Jones understands the importance of integrated marketing and how diversity can play a bigger role in Silicon Valley.
A graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, Jones currently serves as VP of diverse markets at AT&T mobile.
Jones spoke with rolling out during the TechConneXt Summit in Silicon Valley.
Let’s talk about being a part of Black Enterprise’s first tech summit. Why was it important for AT&T to be a part of this?
Sponsorships is one of the ways we connect to the communities we do business with. We always look for sponsorships that resonate with what we’re trying to do in touching our community and we are an innovative company. We are a technical company and this just made a lot of sense for us. Not only trying to increase our workforce of tech workers, but the notion of innovation has always been near and dear to AT&T’s heart. We always want to be on the cutting edge of anything to move all of us forward. And this conference definitely does that.
Let’s talk about diversity. How does AT&T play a role in making sure diversity is key?
It’s diversity of thought as much as diversity of how people may look. There’s an old saying that says, ‘If you and I agree on everything, one of us is unnecessary.’ So having among us people that think differently and look at problems differently and come to solutions differently enhances all of this. It is the right thing to do and it’s a very positive ROI for companies to do that.
So what have been your biggest challenges thus far?
When I started my career, I didn’t really have mentors. I didn’t really have someone to tell me the things that I learned. Would it have made a difference if someone had told me these things? I’d like to think so. But maybe not. Because there’s nothing like experience to teach you. So I would say to anybody, you gotta understand your environment, learn it, watch it, understand what it takes to be successful, work hard, keep integrity as your number one skill. I think it worked for me and it could work for others, not just at my company, but I think in life, period.
How should recent graduates make sure that they stand out from the crowd?
I think you really have to understand and know yourself. Know who you are. Many of us don’t at such a young age and that’s not a problem. But each experience helps to define who you are, to really solidify your moral compass. Sometimes you’ll find out that the corporate environment is not for you. That is just as invaluable as someone who finds out it is for them. But your career is not a straight line. Look at it as a learning experience and a journey that never ends. So stay open to learning, stay open to reflecting, and getting better at who and what you are and moving yourself and whatever environment you’re in.