Kristi Crum's job at Verizon is in the same location it was when she joined the company just 14 years ago -- in Little Rock, Arkansas. However, her job is anything but the same. She started with the company in 2001 as an analyst and is now president of the South Central region for the company’s wireless business. She was promoted into this role in 2014 after stints in New Jersey, and in California where she ran the state’s retail operations.
“I’ve held just about every job in between,” says Crum on her rapid ascension to her current role.
The National Association for Female Executives and Working Mother Magazine recently recognized Verizon’s development of female talent by naming the company to the list of the Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. The list recognizes companies that have strong female representation at all levels, and have programs and policies that help foster the advancement of female employees.
In Crum’s experience, getting promoted requires not only taking the occasional risk, but working for a company that’s willing to do the same for you. “When I had the opportunity to run all of retail in California, it was something I had never done,” she says. “I didn’t have the most sales experience out of all the candidates. But they chose me, believing I could lead and that they could teach me the job. The company values leadership over doing what’s easiest.”
Verizon has a number of female leadership development programs that have helped Crum and others advance their careers. And many execs – both male and female – go out of their way to help and mentor women. “It’s incredible what we do for females in this company,” says Crum, who credits the many mentors who have helped her.
These efforts have paid off for Verizon, as the company sees the business benefits of an inclusive and diverse culture. The perspectives you get with a diverse and inclusive team are crucial to understanding the needs of customers and coming up with unique solutions to better serve them.
Crum’s advice to women looking to grow in their careers is simple: Results matter and you have to be proactive. “People will start to look at you when you deliver results,” she says. “And while the programs we have to help women are wonderful, not everything is naturally given – you have to take ownership of your career and seek it out yourself.”
When you do at a company like Verizon, there’s always a helping hand on the other end.