A little Argentinean girl disembarks an airplane unable to speak or understand the language around her.
An 11 year-old Rocio Llanos stares out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the airport, her first time setting foot in America.
She sees jumbo-jets taking off from the runway and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway. Surrounded by her family, Llanos is about to undergo one of the most difficult experiences of her life: acclimate to a new country, learn a new language, and essentially start from scratch.
More importantly, she sees a new opportunity.
Fast forward seven years, and Llanos transformed herself from a nervous pre-teen to a leader in her community. After graduating high school, she set her early sights on college with hopes of earning a four-year degree. She knew, though, that financing her education would be difficult.
In January 2013, she started an entry-level position at a Verizon retail store — a position that not only helped her achieve her goal, but also provided a spontaneous new career she never saw coming.
Over the course of three years, Llanos earned that degree with the help of Verizon’s Tuition Assistance Program. Graduating from her original role in a sales role in operations, she moved into a thriving managerial position in sales that catapulted her career and changed her life.
“I was always on the sales floor, even when I was in operations,” Llanos said. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, but it was really difficult not having the sales experience [on paper] to move onto that next role.”
What Llanos lacked in experience she made up for with her performance. She became a sales leader, topping the retail national leaderboard for her zone in just her first month as a solutions specialist. She also earned the coveted Verizon Credo Award in September 2016 and a promotion to solutions manager just months later.
Working in sales
“When you’re in a sales position, it’s really about your own merits and working towards your own goals,” she said. “But when you’re in a management position, it’s not just about your goals, it’s about working towards the store’s goals, too. I always make sure to help others on the operations side and the sales side because these two functions go hand in hand to drive profitability.”
Llanos’ career had begun to take off. She said that that there is no secret formula to her success. It’s simply hard work, determination, and perseverance—traits she inherited from her mother long before they migrated from Argentina.
“Coming here from Argentina really shaped my character, and I think that translated into my work ethic and my personality,” said Llanos. “It was a complete culture shock . . . there aren’t many Argentinian women in New Jersey . . . and I didn’t speak any English, so I had to work really hard to catch up and learn the language. It was really challenging. But my mom has always been my inspiration. She has pushed me to work hard and overcome the challenges in my life—and I want to be the same way for my own daughter."
Becoming a role model and a mentor to her peers and colleagues is something that Llanos embraces.
As part of Verizon’s Women of Wireless development program, she is committed to developing and inspiring other young women to take charge of their careers and propel them to the next level—wherever they might go.
“There were only a couple of women in customer service when I first started working [at Verizon], but that has changed,” Llanos said. “I learned in the program that women can be approachable and authoritative at the same time. As women leaders, we offer a lot of value.”
Rocio Llanos is living proof that Verizon is committed to promoting a culture of women leaders in sales. But for those women who might be hesitant to take the leap, she has a message for you:
“Don’t think that because sales is an industry primarily dominated by men, that you won’t succeed. Don’t let that stop you. We can be in leadership roles and offer incredible value to our employees and to our customers by being both authoritative and approachable, and I definitely think that’s a strong competitive advantage.”
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