When you’re a professional, your work schedule tends to dictate your personal schedule, which means you might not have as much time as you’d like to get involved in activities and organizations outside of your office. Reagan Cannon, Assistant Vice President for AT&T Call Centers, has expertly navigated her busy work life to find time to invest herself in other areas of life. See how she made time and how you can too.
4word: Tell us about your role with AT&T. Do you feel your workplace is accommodating to you as a high-level female manager?
Reagan: I am currently an Assistant Vice President for AT&T Call Centers. My responsibilities include motivating and leading over 5000 call-taking service reps and managing a multi-million dollar operating budget. Every day, I have to balance the joys and pressures of keeping my customers, employees, and shareholders happy.
AT&T is a big supporter of female leaders. They have a “Women of AT&T” resource group that brings women together across the company. They host different events and functions so you can build your network and advance your career.
4word: Has there ever been any tension between you and your husband over your position as the primary breadwinner for your family? How has your marriage grown over the years as you followed your career path?
Reagan: My husband and I met in college. We both knew that I would be in business, and he would be in sports or education. That meant I would always have more earning potential than him (even in college I had the highest paid student job!). We were very open about our concerns and what each of us would have to deal with in terms of stereotypes and tough/annoying questions. In the end, we both felt we could manage through the difficulties, personally and publicly.
The key is constant communication and deliberate choices. We take turns making sacrifices for each other’s careers. We sacrificed some extra spending dollars in order to fund his two graduate degrees. Then we sacrificed living in California, so I could advance my career. Ultimately, what helps him helps me and vice versa. That is how God intended it. As each of us thrives, we bring that energy into the relationship. We try to keep focused on each other, although it can be very hard. Our perspective is that it is our marriage, our money, and our success.
4word: You are passionate about being a leader for people fresh out of college. What incited this passion?
Reagan: Both of my grandmothers were teachers. I think they passed along the “loves to teach” gene to me. A lot of people’s perception is that learning formally ends with the last year of college or a graduate degree. However, the truth is that the 20s are a critical time of learning in anyone’s career. I want young professionals to know that the learning is just beginning as they enter the workforce. There are a lot of failures and successes anxious to be their tutors! I want to challenge, motivate, and teach them what they need to set up success for the next 25+ years they will be working.
4word: Another area that you are an advocate for is something you call “Unicorns in Church.” Can you elaborate on this?
Reagan: Oh yes! A lot of churches plan 10AM weekday Bible studies for women and 6AM prayer breakfasts for men. They think that meets the needs of both men and women in the church. What about the professional working women? They don’t believe we exist; we are the church’s unicorns. Packs of us wander around aimlessly at church. We feel the only way we can get involved is in the nursery or baking a casserole. During the week we make important decisions and offer very important insights to our company, yet at church, we feel lost and out of place. This can change! I love that organizations like 4word are giving unicorns a place to connect and challenging us to make a difference.
4word: How has your church opened its arms to their “unicorns?”
Reagan: I am so blessed to have found a church that realizes it has unicorns in its congregation. We have a Tuesday evening Bible study that fits perfectly into any working woman’s schedule. The women there pray equally about spiritual growth, family issues, and career moves. The church has even utilized the skills of a very talented female leadership consultant, LaurieGrace, to lead a men and women’s leadership development class in Sunday school. The first session ran this past fall, and the results were phenomenal. This is a great example of a unicorn using her skills to benefit the entire church.
4word: At 4word, one of our main goals is to help connect professional Christian women with each other so that they don’t feel alienated in their workplaces and churches. What advice do you have for a woman who’s struggling to connect, both at work and at her church?
Reagan: When I joined my new church this past summer, I asked my brother for some advice. (He is a pastor of a church in Chicago.) I wanted to know how I could get “plugged in.” His answer was simple…volunteer. A lot of times we wait for an invitation to get plugged in. We are afraid of rejection or getting assigned to a role that doesn’t fit our skills. I know I have had the, “I hope they let me do something other than work in the nursery,” feeling. What I found is that I took the first step with my new church, and it has paid dividends. Since his advice in the fall, I have:
- Led a couple of the lessons at the women’s bible study
- Volunteered for Christmas Eve service
- Signed up for the “bring a meal” program that allows me to bring dinner to families even with my crazy work schedule
- Help plan the women’s mixer event
- Hosted a “getting to know you” dinner for people who want to connect in a more intimate setting.
Do not wait for your church and community to make the first move. Make time! Make an effort! Put yourself out there!
Like Reagan, you can find time and ways to connect with others by getting plugged in as soon as you can. Find ways to utilize your knowledge and skills to better the lives of those around you. In the end, you will get as much joy from the experience as those you’re investing in.
How can you “plug in?” What are some tips you can share for getting more involved, both in your community and your church?
Reagan Cannon is currently serving as an Assistant Vice President of Call Centers in Mobility Customer Service. Her direct reports include eight call center General Managers who lead more than 5,000 call taking service reps. Her organization is comprised of Sales, Retention and Prepaid customers. In 2014, her team delivered over 100% of its sales targets and retained several million customers from leaving AT&T.
Reagan has a Marketing degree and an M.B.A. from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.
Originally from Newport Beach, California, Reagan spent most of her career in Southern California. In December 2010, her husband and two dogs relocated to Dallas, Texas.