Insight from an ERG Leader at Lumen Technologies

Sponsored by Lumen

Photo courtesy of Lumen Technologies.

Photo courtesy of Lumen Technologies.

Lumen Technologies
Lumen Technologies
April 23, 2024 at 2:35AM UTC

A conversation with Tzeitel Looper, Lumen’s Voice of Many Feathers ERG Chair and Director of the Quantum Fiber (PMO) Project Management Office 

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role, and what were you doing previously? 

This is an incredibly exciting time to be at Lumen. Kate Johnson, our energizing President and CEO, started in November and she is building a culture rooted in teamwork, trust, and transparency. I have some perspective on this historic moment at Lumen because I’ve been in the telecommunications industry for more than 25 years, and a Lumen employee for more than 10 years. 

I was recently promoted to a new position as the Director of our Quantum Fiber Project Management Office. Prior to this, I was the company’s Director of Transformation and lead the Project Management Office (PMO) field process. In this role, I provide visibility into relevant data and other information to enable better decision making, key focus area identification, and top initiatives progress tracking. I also provide organizational support and leadership across Field Operations to define transformation strategies, report impacted key performance indicators (KPIs) by initiative, and track actual monthly benefits compared to forecasted benefits at the project and portfolio levels. I advise senior executives and leadership team members in progressing key objectives and identifying and solving challenges. To be playing a key role in transformation initiatives at a time when our customers are transforming to meet their customer’s needs is incredibly exciting and rewarding.  

In my prior role as Sr. Manager of Planning, I managed, led, mentored, and inspired a team of Transport Planners to help maintain an efficient network that meets our customer needs. I have also served in roles supporting Lumen teams that are responsible for carrier relations, dispute resolutions, solutions architecture, and service delivery. 

On February 10, I was honored to be recognized as one of three winners during Lumen’s inaugural DIB Award ceremony with the Leadership Ally DIB Award for my contributions and commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive work environment that values a culture of allyship across our entire business. 

How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you?  

Every year, I mentor two to three women for their career development and growth – as well as mine. Being a mentor and sponsor are two different roles, and both must be done with intent. What I enjoy most is helping women who want to move into leadership roles but are missing certain skill sets needed for their resumes and who need to improve interviewing, recruiting, and public speaking skills. I also like to help them find ways within their employee resource group (ERG) families to join a chapter or corporate board that provides an opportunity to expand their circles of influence and hone leadership skills they may not otherwise learn in their day-to-day jobs. My intent is to help them find success when applying for future opportunities or new positions within the company.  

Are you involved in any resource groups or networks at your organization? If so, which one(s)?

I’m the global chair and executive sponsor of Lumen’s Voice of Many Feathers (VoMF) ERG and am also an active ally of the SOMOS and PRIDE ERGs. My involvement with VoMF connected me with a wonderful mentor who has helped me grow my leadership skills and secure promotions throughout my career. Being part of any ERG is not only a great way to cultivate and grow relationships with other employees, but also an opportunity to professionally grow your circle of influence for future success.  

How and why did you first get involved in your company’s women’s network or other ERG? 

I joined the company’s Women Empowered (WE) ERG nearly a decade ago as a new employee for the networking opportunities and to meet other likeminded women. I joined VoMF ERG three years ago out of curiosity and interest to connect more with the Native American community. I became its Global Chair more than a year ago.   

What has your ERG accomplished that you’re most proud of?  

VoMF has grown more than 40% in the last 12 months. Native Americans have unique identities and contributions. We have diverse cultures and traditions. Our diversity makes us unique in our own tribes, but the historical trials and tribulations are the same. And many of those trials continue today.

We partnered with more than half of Lumen’s 11 ERGs during 2022 to raise funds for Native American Vets Programs. Our ERG members volunteered at local Food Banks in partnership with our WE ERG members and VoMF has an infinity relationship across all our ERGs – many VoMF members are also members of the VETS, PRIDE, SOMOS, Association of Black Technology Professionals (ABTP) and WE ERGs. Our members truly represent the pillars of diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB). 

What do you think other companies can learn from how your company handles ERG’s and D&I initiatives?  

Other companies can learn that diversity means having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is ensuring that voice is heard.

My passion is figuring out how to help those who can’t help themselves. It’s not just about Native Americans and their struggles. All races, ethnicities, and cultures face the same issues in some way. Native Americans have intersectionality with Blacks, Latinx, and other beautiful people of color. We celebrate our diversity, inclusion, and belonging, which makes us – as our ERG describes – a Voice of Many Feathers. We are diverse, but we are unified in that diversity.

I feel we should celebrate all diversity and our commonality every month. Our anthem for Native American month this past year was “We are One” because we all find unity in our diversity. DIB is all about finding that unity each day. Together as a company, our employees should all strive to achieve education, collaboration, and one culture. 

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