AT&T Women In Tech: Lisa Park, Business Solutions Assistant Vice President

woman speaking

The more things change, the better for Lisa Park.

A communications major at Trinity University in San Antonio, Lisa was considering a career behind the scenes in entertainment when an internship helped change her career path. As part of her duties posting web content, she learned to code HTML.

When she returned to college for her senior year, she used that skill to land a job with what was then SBC. With graduation near, her supervisor at SBC suggested she apply for the company’s Leadership Development Program. She was accepted.

Lisa describes the three years that followed as a Telecom 101 boot camp. She rotated through several business areas, sometimes moving to different parts of the country for assignments. The experiences she had in those three years, she says, has kept her open to trying new things.

They also helped her learn to embrace change, a trait that’s definitely a requirement for her current position as Assistant Vice President of Connectivity Product Management and Channel Engagement – Internet of Things, AT&T Business Solutions. She and her team oversee product and channel efforts in one of today’s most rapidly evolving areas.

Recently, the NEB team talked with Lisa about the challenges of working in IoT, how she deals with an industry that’s constantly changing, and what women have to offer the field of technology.

 

How important is the ability to adapt to change to a career in technology?

Critically important. For any type of role within the technology industry, you have to have that mindset of continuous learning and continuous change, because technology is constantly evolving. I think AT&T has been very successful at dealing with change, and that’s because our leadership has stayed open to new ideas and new ways of looking at our role in the industry.

What to you has been the most striking development in the tech industry in recent years?

The ubiquitous nature of connectivity. When I started out, our business was mainly wireline and our wireless business was just getting started. Today, everything is connected through a variety of technologies. Our whole ecosystem is connected, and we’re embedding connectivity in devices that were never connected before. And it’s not just people talking to devices; it’s devices sensing data, devices talking to other devices, and us being able to using that data to make better business decisions and improve our quality of life.

Your focus is on the Internet of Things. What’s it like working with IoT?

It is super exciting, for me and for our business. Even though the concepts have been around for a while, there’s still a sense of a startup-type environment, where things are very nimble, very fast-paced. It’s exciting to work in that environment.

It’s exciting, too, because AT&T has attracted incredible talent to this space. It’s an honor to work with such smart people on projects that are shaping the path of this industry.

There’s a lot of buzz and a lot of hype around IoT, and I get asked often if this is a “real business.” The answer is yes! We’re connecting cars, we’re connecting business assets, we’re connecting everything, and I think we’re doing it better than anyone else in the world.

Do you think women have any advantage in the field of technology?

I don’t think “advantage” is the right word. We can certainly offer a different and valuable perspective on technology, because we use technology differently. There are certain things that are going to be considerations for women that maybe aren’t so much for men—size of the device, certain features or applications, and so forth. Companies need a diversity of perspectives and opinions to develop products that work for everyone.

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What opportunities does a career with a technology company hold for women?

Technology companies offer opportunities for women to impact innovation. On the personal side, there’s also the opportunity to serve as a reference point for other women. That’s an impact we shouldn’t underestimate. If we believe diversity is important to our business, we must have visible examples to show women that careers in technology can provide an environment in which they can make an impact and thrive.

How do women influence the future of tech?

It comes back to the perspective we bring to the business, whether it is in design or development. If a company doesn’t have that perspective, it could potentially isolate half of its potential customers. I read somewhere that 85 percent of purchase decisions today are made or influenced by women. Businesses have to take that into account when creating products.

Do you think we need more women in the technology industry?

Yes, but it’s more of a question of diversity overall. Beyond gender diversity, we also need to talk about diversity of educational backgrounds, geographical diversity, diversity of opinions, age diversity. Building a company with that type of diversity is how you create better products, more useful products, and find better ways to relate to our customers.

We hear a lot of talk about STEM education. To young women and girls who are considering what they want to study, consider a STEM field! But even if you don’t choose that type of education path, that doesn’t exclude you from making an impact in technology. I’m glad I took the chance I did. I think there are a lot of history majors or communications majors wondering if there’s an opportunity for them in technology. And the answer is absolutely yes.

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