AT&T Women In Tech: Anne Chow, Global Business President of Integrator Solutions

Across the professional and personal aspects of her life, Anne Chow, who is the president of Integrator Solutions for AT&T Business Solutions, believes it’s important to seek and build meaningful relationships.

In a conversation with the Networking Exchange Blog team, Anne talked about the relationships most important to her – and how young women interested in STEM should reach out and get to know other women working in the field.

You’ve gone from being a Juilliard-trained pianist to earning electrical engineering undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as an MBA, followed by a career here at AT&T. As a girl, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?

I did at one point think about becoming a professional pianist, but by the time I got to high school, I realized that while I loved music, I did not have a true passion for performing. That’s when I began to focus more on math and science.

I’ve been guided by the fact that I’m a second-generation American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan in the 1960s. My parents raised me to believe in and pursue the American dream. It was important to me that all the investments they made – in terms of education, hard work, sacrifices, and love – paid off. I wanted to be successful and make a difference not only for me, but for them too. As I was making choices for college, I wanted to pursue professions that I knew would make my parents proud.

Is that what ultimately triggered your path to a tech industry career?

It was a combination of science and serendipity.

While at university, I assessed what I was and wasn’t good at and had an opportunity to discover what I enjoyed. I excelled in various math and technology courses. With my father being an electrical engineer, it’s not a big surprise that I ultimately chose to follow in some of his same footsteps.

My father worked in the telecom industry at Bell Labs, which was his first job out of graduate school. When my brother and I were very young, we would visit him at work. I remember being in awe of all the unique, smart, and eclectic people as well as all the cool gadgets, labs, and displays – and I wished that someday I could work in an environment like that. And here I am.

I still have pictures of my brother and me standing in front of the Holmdel AT&T Bell Labs complex in New Jersey. It was so impressive and huge, and there was a water tower on the property shaped like a transistor. Certainly, this was where much of the groundwork was laid for me to establish a career in technology.

What do you feel has been your greatest professional achievement (so far)?

In 2004, I became the first Asian executive officer at AT&T. I’ve been told that today I am the highest ranking Asian officer in the company. While this was never my objective, I am proud to be a trailblazer in some small way – so that the next generation of diverse leaders can continue to forge new ground. This is critical for our success in this era of global disruption fueled by technology.

My contributions and position at work have enabled me to give more significantly to the community. I have been able to support progress in key areas of focus that are important to both AT&T and to me, such as diversity and inclusion, girls and leadership, education, and the advancement of women in STEM, to name a few. While the internal and external accolades and recognition are certainly appreciated, my greatest accomplishments are those that enable others to be successful, support them in their own journey, and help them realize their fullest potential.

As an aside, I was recently appointed to the board of FranklinCovey, a global company specializing in performance improvement. I’m passionate about its mission and am excited to contribute professionally and personally in this role.

Who are the role models and mentors that have encouraged you along the way?

My mother and father provided the foundation for my success – and helped me to establish my lens on how I view success. My father continues to be one of my staunchest supporters and, particularly in the early days of my career, I welcomed his tactical and professional advice as I began to build a career in telecom.

Of course, I have had some wonderful bosses and many supportive colleagues along the way. I’ve also found mentors in the community, which is a great place to establish and nurture diverse relationships. To me, mentoring is not statically connected to one person or group. It’s about building, evolving, and sustaining meaningful relationships.

What advantages do you think being a woman has given you in this industry?

Being a woman has numerous advantages! We have natural attributes that can enrich our careers, such as our ability to connect, communicate, and collaborate with people. We are known for our empathy and humility. Generally speaking, women are, by nature, very social creatures and excel when it comes to seeking out and fostering relationships.

While women are currently largely in the minority in this industry, I’m confident that this represents an immense opportunity for breakthrough. I wholeheartedly believe difference – be it gender, ethnicity, skills, or experience – is a competitive advantage. And in fact, in this next industrial revolution fueled by mobility, digital technologies, software, and the internet of everything, global diversity will be a must for any organization to be successful.

How would you encourage more girls to go into STEM?

I believe we need to motivate more young women to study math and science, especially in the earlier school years. We need to position math in particular as a universal language, namely the language of technology and business. The more languages you know, the more you can reach different people and drive positive change. As an example, finance requires math, and finance is the language of every business all around the world.

Furthermore, every organization in every industry is impacted by technology today. The disruption is real – and innovation is driven by STEM in so many ways, across industries such as retail, healthcare, and transportation and logistics.

We also need to take STEM education a step further – not just push the STEM fields themselves, but put them in the context of what the application of STEM is really all about. I believe that there is a common misperception that a career in STEM means a career in the lab. While certainly research is an option for many, the reality is that an education in STEM can open virtually any door in a wide range of fields.

What advice would you give young girls who are interested in a career in the technology industry?

Jump in! Put yourself out there and get to know as many people (especially women) as you can who are in college, just graduated, or already working in technology. Talk to them and find out what inspired, and continues to inspire, them. Also take advantage of the great organizations out there, like Girls Who Code or Girl Scout programs, not to mention internships. Fuel your curiosity!

Don’t believe the perception out there that STEM is too difficult or uncool. Experience it for yourself and stretch yourself. Change happens one person at a time, and YOU CAN change the world with a background in STEM.


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