Connecting with AT&T
Posted on Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Jerry Fuentes entertained
lofty aspirations. He had an undergraduate degree and a management
position with AT&T. He wanted to rise higher. And friends and
colleagues told him he had strong leadership skills.
But to advance to an executive level, Fuentes needed a postgraduate
degree. The challenge was to earn an MBA while managing responsibilities
at the office and at home as a husband and father.
How could he do that?
The Weekend College program at Our Lady of the Lake University provided the answer. Armed with an MBA (1989)
and extraordinary leadership skills, Fuentes rose through the company
to become president of AT&T Arizona and New Mexico.
“I used a lot of what I learned at Weekend College to build my career
and get promoted a number of times after that,” says Fuentes, 58, a 1974
graduate of Harlandale High School. “I knew I had the capacity to be a
leader within the company. I had done really well early in my career.
But I didn’t have the degree I needed to be a serious candidate.”
As president, Fuentes leads the company’s legislative, regulatory and
external affairs activities in Arizona and New Mexico. He also
represents AT&T in civic and community organizations.
In 33 years with the company, Fuentes has served in the comptroller’s
office, human relations, information systems and marketing and external
affairs. Before he became president, Fuentes served as assistant vice
president for External Affairs.
He reflects warmly on his days at OLLU.
“I felt very much at home at Our Lady of the Lake,” Fuentes says. “I
felt I was more in a community, grassroots university. I felt like I
counted. I didn’t feel like a number. It wasn’t like I was walking into a
classroom with 300 students. I was one of 20 people in the room getting
lots of personal attention. It was the right size for me.”
Fuentes is one of many OLLU alumni who have helped AT&T grow into the world’s 21st largest company by market value.
started with AT&T as a summer intern 37 years ago. Today, she’s an
assistant vice president for public policy, working in the Chief Privacy
Officer’s group. “In addition to watching over our AT&T privacy
policy, I work closely with our various product and service development
groups to make sure we implement ‘Privacy by Design,’” says Ramsey (MBA
“That means building in privacy considerations from the beginning of
development of a new product or service. I love my job because I get to
deal with so many different people and organizations.”
She remains grateful for her MBA. “The professors were able to clearly
show how the classroom learning and team exercises would have direct
application to teamwork at AT&T,” she says. “Those team assignments
helped to strengthen my collaborative skills. Today’s environment is all
about agility, flexibility and collaboration.”
years after earning his MBA from OLLU in 1999, Sands decided to make a
career change. To gauge potential job opportunities, Sands sought advice
from a network of AT&T friends he’d met at OLLU.
The outreach proved fortuitous. Sands connected with AT&T and used
his MBA skills to serve. As associate director for executive
compensation, Sands manages a team that provides compensation and
benefits support for approximately 1,800 active and retired officers and
senior managers. “I develop strategic internal and external
vendor/third party relationships to ensure a high level of support for
executives,” he says.
OLLU prepared him well. “While we learned from professors and
textbooks,” he says, “a lot of the knowledge came from the experiences
of students, as most were management level employees at USAA or
AT&T. It allowed me to see how the textbook information and my
classmates’ experience translated into real world situations.”
one years ago, Abrego began working for AT&T as a stockman, loading
trucks from 2 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. He could not have known then that
he would earn three degrees from OLLU while working for the company. Or
that he would rise to become a signature client service executive.
But he did. Abrego’s journey at AT&T included a considerable
education from OLLU. He earned a Bachelor of Applied Studies in 1994, an
MBA in 1997 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 2004 – all through the
Weekend College program. OLLU, he says, taught him how to develop
critical thinking solutions and speak knowledgeably with executive
“I work with high profile revenue customers from USAA and Clear
Channel,” Abrego says. “I assist customer executives on escalating
network reliability and availability issues.”
43 years with AT&T, Diaz has enjoyed a wonderfully diverse career.
She started as an office mail runner, straight out of high school in
1970. She worked as a secretary and stenographer.
As the years passed, Diaz worked in the commercial department, the legal
department, the marketing department, the property tax office and
finance department. Along the way, she began the Weekend College program
at OLLU and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1996 and an
MBA in 2001.
A combination of experience and education has led to her current
position: lead tax accountant. “I really enjoyed studying at the Lake,”
Diaz says. “I’ve enjoyed my time with AT&T. It’s been a very good
company. It’s given me the opportunity to work in a lot of areas and
carry forward knowledge from department to department.”
has served AT&T with distinction for 43 years. In her current role
as senior client services program manager, Salazar manages a team of
nearly a dozen project managers.
“I work with large business customers who have contracted to have all
their telecommunications and data services monitored and managed by
AT&T,” she says. “I work with the attorney and team that negotiated
the contract to determine what we sold the customer. I turn that
contract language into a project plan and work with internal AT&T
groups to ensure we transition the customer’s equipment to AT&T.”
In 1970, Salazar began as a telephone operator. She had only a diploma
from Thomas Jefferson High School. Over the years, she attended Weekend
College and emerged with three degrees: a bachelor’s degree in
management (1990), an MBA (2001) and a PhD in Leadership Studies (2011).
Aguilar joined AT&T six years ago as a senior auditor in Dallas.
Today he’s a senior auditor manager, supervising a team of three that
performs audits to ensure operations are working as designed.
“I love it,” he says.
While Aguilar was working for another company in San Antonio, his wife
held a job with AT&T. They had an opportunity to relocate to Dallas
when AT&T headquarters moved there. Aguilar applied with AT&T
and was hired. “It’s been a great opportunity for my career,” he says.
OLLU provided Aguilar (BBA 2001) a swift path into an auditing career.
“My tax professor guided me into an audit position with a firm in San
Antonio,” he says. “It started as an internship and grew into a job
before I graduated.”
held a job with the University of Texas Health Science Center when he
enrolled at OLLU’s Weekend College program. Before he earned his MBA in
2000, though, Shipley went to work for AT&T.
“I’m an integrated solutions director,” says Shipley, who also earned a
BBA from OLLU in 1997. “I manage a team of guys in South Texas and
Oklahoma who are technical sales consultants for our large and mid-size
companies and customers.”
He credits OLLU for his success at AT&T. “The job I do requires a
combination of good management, communication and finance skills,” he
says. “All these were refined through the classes I took at OLLU and
were reinforced through learning team projects that were a part of every
class. My focus in electronic commerce gave me cutting edge experience
in the IT industry, which is the core of what my team supports today.”
had such a good experience at OLLU (MBA 2000), she decided to come
back. She is pursuing a PhD in Leadership Studies while working as a
senior equal employment opportunity (EEO) consultant for AT&T.
She is responsible for ensuring that AT&T’s EEO programs are in
compliance with legislation and the company’s policies. Her MBA proved
“OLLU prepared me in building a solid foundation for the exchange of
knowledge in my current role,” she says. “It’s been so rewarding for me
when I’ve been able to share and coach employees to understand that when
you motivate and influence people in a way that aligns with the
organization’s vision, strategy and needs, it can have a significant
impact on everyone’s success.”
provided more than an education for Gonzalez. The University provided a
friend in the Weekend College program who helped her land a job with
AT&T – 16 years after she graduated.
Gonzales (BA Sociology 1976) started with AT&T in 1992. In December
2013, she retired as an assistant senior manager in the Network,
Planning and Engineering Department.
“I maintained personnel history binders, processed invoices, ordered
supplies and handled payroll and administrative duties,” she says.
“AT&T is truly a great company to work for. I would still be working
there if they had not offered a very attractive ‘retirement package.’ I
was able to retire four years earlier than I planned!”
Gonzales treasures her time at OLLU. “My professors always guided me
through the process of preservation,” she says. “A special thanks goes
to Sister Frances Jerome Wood, my adviser who never gave up on me.”