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 Telecom Talent

Those with a keen interest in working at cutting-edge telecommunications companies that foster diversity are finding success.
Are you passionate about working for a cutting-edge technology company that communicates all sorts of information, including data, text, pictures, voice or video over long distance? Well, look no further than telecommunications.
It offers professionals the opportunity to work in technological areas such as broadband, cybercasts and fiber-optics, or in other areas of the company such as customer service, business, or news and media careers.
If you’re equally interested in working for a company that fosters and embraces diversity, recruiting and supporting talented women and members of minority groups, then take a look at the telecom professionals featured here whose careers are thriving at Altice USA, Charter Communications, Comcast and U.S. Cellular.
Altice USA’s Thakrar Thrives in Telecom’s Fast Pace
Being a part of cutting-edge technology within the Altice USA organization, which is led by technologists who are driven to be industry leaders, is the key to an enjoyable career, according to Chandni Thakrar, vice president, technology integration & solutions implementation, Altice USA.
“Each and every day, we’re driven to think differently about how to be innovative so we can provide excellent service to our customers,” notes Thakrar.
After she attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, Thakrar started her career in telecommunications with Cox Business Services in West Texas. “I got to oversee the launch of commercial telephony across the West Texas footprint, which then evolved into a larger role in 2006 when parts of Cox were acquired by Suddenlink Communications,” she notes.
The Netherlands-based Altice acquired Suddenlink and Cablevision in 2016, and the U.S. subsidiary Altice USA, which is the fourth largest cable operator in the nation with U.S. headquarters in Bethpage, NY, was formed.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of it; the constant innovation and fast pace of the industry has always excited me,” relates Thakrar. “Every day is like a new day as we look to drive superior service to all of our customers across the country.”
For Thakrar, a big challenge in her career has been work and family balance. In the last 15 years of her career, she struggled with having to choose between being a good mother and her demanding career.
“It took me some time to understand that you don’t have to choose. You manage to find a balance along the way,” she explains. “Sometimes personal life outweighs professional, and vice versa, and you find a way to make it work.”
What does the telecom executive advise others who want to pursue a career in this field? “Be bold and fearless, and don’t be afraid to take on projects outside of your comfort zone,” answers Thakrar. “Push the envelope, and raise the bar. Hold yourself, your team, and others accountable. And don’t forget to have fun in the process.”
Although Thakrar doesn’t want to spend so much time away from her children, she also recognizes that in the end they see a mom who works to provide for them.
“I can only hope that inspires them, too, to be ambitious in the future,” she adds.
Log onto alticeusacareers.com/jobs to view Altice USA jobs. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Altice USA at a Glance
Altice USA is a national telecommunications, media and entertainment company and a subsidiary of Altice Group, a global communications company founded in 2001 by telecom engineer and entrepreneur Patrick Drahi. It employs more than 18,000 and serves 4.3 million residential and 350,000 business customers in 20 states. Twelve regional news, traffic and weather channels are included within its brands of Suddenlink, Optimum, Lightpath, News 12 Networks and CMS.
Han Takes the Journalistic Lead at Charter
“I credit my grandfather for inspiring me to pursue journalism since he was a newspaper reporter himself,” details Bernie Han, group vice president, news and local programming, Stamford, CT-based Charter Communications.
Han attended New York, NY-based Barnard College and had several internships with news organizations and publications during her college years.
“The one that really piqued my interest and solidified my desire to go into television news was my internship with Dan Rather at CBS Evening News during the summer between junior and senior year,” recalls Han. “CBS inspired me by showing me the exciting world of broadcast journalism.”
Han faced many challenges after graduation. There weren’t as many job opportunities as there are now. In broadcast journalism, according to Han, the only options were the three big networks and PBS and CNN.
“As I rose in the ranks, I faced another challenge as many times I was the only woman in the room,” notes Han.
“I had to learn to speak up to make sure I was being heard. Speaking up is not part of my DNA. All through school I hated to raise my hand, never liked to hear myself talk and always sat in the back of the room. However, once I started my career in TV news, I quickly realized I needed to speak up or risk being drowned out. I also learned not to be afraid to ask for help or to admit I didn’t understand something.”
Han encourages current students to pursue internships while still in college. It’s the only way you can truly get a feeling for how the work environment in which you’re interested operates.
“It’s also a great way to make a good impression on potential future bosses,” she maintains. “This business is all about being in the right place at the right time, and also who you know.”
Build relationships and position yourself for the right opportunities, further advises Han. The best way to do that is to find a mentor. “It makes a difference to find someone you trust to help guide your career.”
It also makes a difference when you truly enjoy your career. Han loves journalism. “Uncovering the facts that lead to real change is quite rewarding in this field,” continues the news executive. “Plus, the rush of covering breaking news in a live control room is something that will always get my adrenaline pumping.”
Han is very proud of her part in covering Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, and considers it one of the greatest of her career achievements so far.
“Our weather center tracked the storm for days,” remembers Han. “Our team of reporters, producers and field crews positioned themselves along the coasts across all five boroughs to give New Yorkers the minute-by-minute account of the deteriorating weather conditions. We told people where to find shelter if they had to evacuate due to the rising waters. We told them about road closures. I truly believe we saved lives that night, and our coverage didn’t stop when the storm clouds cleared.”
Go to charter.com/browse/content/careers to find Charter careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Charter at a Glance
Charter employs 90,000 and provides Spectrum TV, Internet and Voice services to 24 million-plus customers in 41 states, making it the second-largest cable company in the U.S. This year Charter acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in a deal valued at a combined $67.1 billion, making it the third-largest pay television company in the U.S.
Chapman Engineers Success at Comcast
With a bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence from Glenside, PA-based Arcadia University and a master’s degree in information science from State College, PA-based Penn State, Leslie Chapman turned her hobby of computers into a career.
As principal software engineer for Philadelphia, PA-based Comcast Corporation, Chapman is the technical lead for a small team. “Our team focuses on prototyping new features for ‘Comcast Labs,’” she explains. “We spend a lot of time looking over customer feedback to try to come up with fun and unique ways to address our customers’ requests.”
What challenges has she faced along the way? According to Chapman, the biggest one was overcoming her doubt in herself.
“Early in my career I was easily intimidated by coworkers that were senior to me, and I was hesitant to speak my mind or present my ideas,” says Chapman. “But over time I realized that I was hired because they wanted my ideas.”
She advises women and members of minority groups who might want to pursue a career like hers: “Don’t be intimidated!”
According to Chapman, one of the great things about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers is that it has nothing to do with your gender or race, and everything to do with being a good problem-solver. 
“The teams I’ve worked on throughout my career have always been diverse, including working with people on off-shore teams in India, the Ukraine and even the Netherlands,” details Chapman.
For every team the goal was finding solutions, which is what Chapman enjoys the most about her career. “I like solving problems and creating new solutions, and it’s rewarding for me that millions of people interact with the software that I write every day,” she adds.
In her career the accolades don’t come without the challenges, such as hard deadlines that must be met despite all obstacles. She points to the large amount of work she and her team at Comcast did for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, noting it was stressful to meet deadlines that could not be moved, but rewarding in the end.
Chapman is particularly proud of a patent she has pending. “Early in my career I never thought of myself as an inventor,” she recalls. “I thought I was just a person who coded other people’s ideas, but Comcast fosters an atmosphere of innovation and entrepreneurship, which inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and pitch new ideas. I’m hoping to have at least one more patent pending by the end of 2016.”
Check out corporate.comcast.com/careers to view Comcast career paths. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Comcast at a Glance
A global media and tech firm, Comcast Corporation has two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand. It also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Parks and Resorts, and Universal Pictures.
Isaac’s Career Switch to U.S. Cellular Pays Off
His biggest career challenge was starting a whole new career in the telecom industry after working in a completely different industry for many years. According to Bill Isaac, director, customer care center, U.S. Cellular in Cedar Rapids, IA, he started his career at the wireless telecom provider as a front-line customer service representative after working in the railcar repair industry for 23 years.
He’s currently completing his bachelor’s degree via accredited online higher education institution Capella University. He’s able to do so thanks to a key benefit Chicago, IL-headquartered U.S. Cellular offers employees: 100 percent tuition reimbursement.
“Never give up when life doesn’t necessarily start out in your favor,” asserts Isaac. “Keep showing up and giving your all, no matter what. Find a company that puts true value in diversity and inclusion because your specific talents and gifts will come through, and you can’t help but to excel in that environment.”
What does he enjoy the most about his career? Isaac appreciates U.S. Cellular’s values of pride, ethics, respect, empowerment, customer focus, diversity and winning.
“I learned they are my own personal values, and I get to come to work every day to a job and people that I absolutely love,” he elaborates. “I love how we put the customer first in all that we do, and we’re always seeking ways to enhance the customer’s experience with us.”
Isaac is proud of his career accomplishments at the company thus far. From his beginning as a customer service representative to his current role leading a customer service team, he always strives to deliver the world’s best customer experience in the telecom industry.
“I’ve accomplished and learned more with U.S. Cellular than I might have been able to anywhere else, and I believe the best is yet to come,” concludes Isaac.
Browse uscellular.jobs to view U.S. Cellular jobs. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
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