Courtesy of Jennifer Fitzmaurice
Jennifer Fitzmaurice moved through several positions, taking on more and more responsibilities and connecting with an increasing number of departments at Southerwestern Bell Mobile Systems, before leading a team as assistant vice president of Customer Experience at AT&T. A true Fairygodboss, Jennifer pays it forward by mentoring young women. Despite challenges she faced growing up, her mantra has always been, "I will be successful in being a strong female leader." She's certainly made it happen!
Fairygodboss of the Week: Jennifer Fitzmaurice
Assistant Vice President — Customer Experience, AT&T
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
My career has been such a wonderful journey filled with many joys along the way. I have the privilege to work in a company that has allowed me to continue to grow and has supported my advancement and movement throughout while providing me with fantastic leadership training and development.
I pursued my BS in Mathematics, originally thinking I wanted to become an actuary. After an internship during college and then my first job out of college working as a programmer in the actuarial department, I realized that sitting at a computer in a quiet cube staring at numbers or code all day wasn’t something I was passionate about. After one year out of college, I happened upon a position as an engineering analyst at Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems. I then pursued my MBA at Saint Louis University, taking full advantage of the tuition aid program almost immediately after starting my new role.
I was extremely lucky to have bosses early on who believed in me and trusted me, first in my role as the assistant manager of the team, then manager, and then regional manager. Knowing that I didn’t want to keep focused on RF performance management for the rest of my career, I continued to move around engineering and operations into roles that moved me out of my comfort zone: product manager, project manager, and construction manager. And then bingo: I found the job I had waited for as the liaison between Engineering and everyone else—retail, marketing, finance, external affairs, and business sales. That job taught me so much more about the broader business. then had the ability to work in not one, but two start-up areas of our business. As our company transitioned, I went from working in just a small wireless market to working for AT&T, which brought even more opportunities.
The role of a lifetime came nearly 4 years ago when I moved my family to Dallas to be chief of staff for one of our most senior leaders. In this new position, I had the opportunity to learn about corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, U-verse and internet operations. This was all while we were in merger integration preparation for DIRECTV. Fast forward through a couple large call center operations roles and 15 jobs later, here I am leading a fabulous team focused on improving the customer experience for our consumers.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I am most proud of the time commitment I make to spend with other young leaders at AT&T by giving back and mentoring so many talented individuals. I have been lucky enough to have many leaders throughout my career who spent time guiding my journey. Therefore, I pay it forward by taking every chance I get to know new people, share my stories, lead mentor circles, and say yes anytime someone asks me to meet someone new.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
My childhood had plenty of adversity for me to overcome at a young age. My parents divorced when I was nine, and my mom was absent for a long period of time during my college years and early career. I lacked a strong female role model leader in business or a technical field or a mother that could be a key contributor to her family’s financial situation. Most females in my family did not attend college or pursue higher education. This meant I had no real model of what this looked like and I had to navigate this myself and determine what balance meant to me and what success looked like and convince myself that “I could have it all.” I will say that because of these challenges, my mantra has been that I will be successful in being a strong female leader despite my challenges, and I use it to fuel my desire to succeed and show my 11-year-old daughter what is possible.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Don’t ever turn down an opportunity thinking you can’t do it. Have confidence in your ability and leverage the strengths and competencies you do have. It is easier than you think to do something that might seem a bit impossible or a discipline in which you aren’t trained. If you dig deep and look at the key skills required for the role, regardless of whether you are the subject matter expert, and you possess the key leadership traits for the role, that can go a long way. The bonus is you’ll end up in a continuous learning journey throughout your career!
Why do you love where you work?
I have been blessed to have 15 different roles in my 20-year career. I have been able to move around the business, learn new things, and work on different products and multiple technologies. Essentially, I feel like I’ve changed careers and companies without leaving some of my long-term colleagues and benefits, all while keeping some familiarity. I have made lifelong friends within AT&T and have met so many phenomenal female leaders that have truly made an impact in my life. AT&T is also a strong supporter of giving back to the community and provides many ways for every employee to be involved in making a difference.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
About 15 years into my career, having worked predominantly in engineering for a limited time under a female boss, I had the opportunity to work for Jerrie Kertz, who was our senior vice president of Network Operations Planning and Support. Through Jerrie’s leadership, I saw her be a role model for what it was like to sit at the table full of top male leaders and not at all let that sway her confidence. She was the glue that kept this group together and could move people to make decisions in a very diplomatic way. At the time she also had a secondary role as a “Maverick of Customer Experience.” It was also through her that I began to understand the lens of the customer and how to think differently about our processes and how we interact with our customers.
What do you do when you're not working?
I spend time with family and anything outdoors: hiking, biking, tennis, jeep or a motorcycle ride.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
Jimmy Fallon. I mean, why not? Sometimes I just need to allow myself to have fun and not be so serious. With his sense of humor coupled with his ability to sing and play the music of some of my favorite artists (Bob Dylan), how could I go wrong?
What is your karaoke song?
“Respect” by Aretha Franklin (but only with my girlfriends)
What is your favorite movie?
The Breakfast Club
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus, a book given to me by my late father and part of the reason my daughter’s name is Hope.
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
My shopping vice would be anything at Target! I can find so many things I don’t necessarily need and so many wonderful choices from clothes to home décor. If I won the lottery, I'd buy a fast sports car first and then a house on the ski slopes of Colorado.
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