5 Lessons from the Top: What AT&T’s Chief Diversity Officer Has Learned in Her Career

Can you be nice and still succeed? By Cynthia Marshall (SVP of Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer, AT&T) As a young woman starting out in corporate America, I knew I wanted to be successful. I created my roadmap to success and learned to deal with unexpected hurdles. Along the way, I kept my eyes on the prize as I experienced the challenges and victories that have made me the leader I am today.   Thanks to great bosses and mentors, I’ve received great guidance for growth in my career. Now, it’s my turn to pay it forward by sharing some of the best advice I’ve received over the years.

1. The Power of Nice is Underestimated

Contrary to popular opinion, you can be a leader and still be nice. Being nice is an attractive trait. You’ll find that more people want to work with you and champion for you when you have a positive attitude. It’s always a pleasure to work with people who not only display great teamwork, but who you enjoy being around.  

2. Maintain your Authenticity, But Always Keep it Professional

Let’s be honest. Work can be tense. Projects can fail and inter-office politics can ruffle your feathers. Be careful how you respond when things don’t go the way you expect. Accept adversity with grace. Trust me — people may not remember the event, but they’ll remember your response.

3. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Never promise what you can’t deliver. Try to set expectations that you can not only meet, but exceed. Always deliver your best work.

4. Always Look for the Next Challenge

Comfort can easily cause complacency. Take smart risks at work. Try a new project out for size. Take a class to improve your skills. Lead a workshop. Continue to try new things to move forward in your career.

5. Seek a Mentor

Mentors are guides on your path to success. They’ve been where you are and can help you navigate what’s coming. Mentors are great to have at any age. And once you’re in the position to do so, reach back and mentor those coming up behind you. Success is a journey, not a destination. What constitutes success for you today may change tomorrow. Heed the advice of trusted mentors who can help you on your way.


About the guest blogger: Cynthia Marshall, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer-Human Resources, develops and directs HR programs for AT&T’s 240K employees. Her organization implements and administers HR practices to support AT&T’s business strategy and diversity programs.