Career Choices

I don’t know if I selected technology or technology selected me. I came to telecom back in 2005. I had been in a publishing role and then in computer resale, both of which were really dying industries. I ended up having an opportunity to move into telco and I jumped at the chance because it was a growing industry. I’ve been in tech ever since.

Professional Interests & Drive

A large part of what we do at vCom is service based. If you’re not good at the service part, no matter how good the technology, customers aren’t going to use it. So, I would say that’s my passion: ensuring that the delivery of the service surrounding the technology is not just excellent but exceptional.

Mentors & Influencers

My most influential mentor was the first manager I reported to at PAETEC. Her name was Noelle Bulka. She was probably the most passionate manager I know. She was a great leader. And by that, I mean that she got to know each one of her employees and knew what motivated them. The same with customers; she got to know them and got to know their needs in depth. She took leadership to the point where many leaders aspire to go but never really reach—that place where they gain real understanding of what makes people tick and how to motivate and drive them. I model a lot of my management style on her.

Mentorship Value

Mentorship is critical. Women don’t have enough leaders and mentors to look to as good examples. We don’t lead in the same style that men do typically. That’s why it’s so important to be able to work with other women and learn the techniques that have helped them advance their careers and skill sets.

Admired Leaders & Trailblazers

I would say Melinda Gates. She helped build Microsoft. And over the years she’s really stayed true to her own kind of ethical makeup. It’s important to her to bring other women up in the industry. She’s also not focused on acquiring things. Her goal now is about lifting up other people throughout the world. I also think Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, is amazing. She had a baby and she’s leading the country! And she’s not leading using the same playbook that male leaders use.

Advancing Gender Parity

I have a team full of females right now, and I always tell them you must be true to yourself. Plus — and this is applicable to any career not just tech — your greatest strength is going to be your ability to communicate effectively. Don’t be afraid to communicate assertively — which is not to be mistaken for the “B” word! It’s important that we not reduce our behaviors to a negative slur. I also advise everyone, not just women, to step back and take stock of what you’ve accomplished in your career in the last six months. Don’t just look at your performance metrics, but at projects and things that you’ve done outside of those parameters. Build a story of what you’ve worked on in the last six months, because those things really help you assess your strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, you lose sight of it all.

Leading the Next Generation

I think it’s going to be a combination of two things. First, women have to lift each other up constantly. We must build and support each other and not focus on tearing each other down in our climb upwards. Second, we have to work at getting our male counterparts in the workforce to understand the challenges that we go through. That is inclusive of some of the other diversity initiatives that we engage in. It’s about telling our story and getting people to understand where we are coming from, what our background is, and what kind of skills we bring to the table. Men don’t communicate the same way women do. And that doesn’t mean that we’re weaker or less skilled. It’s just different.

About Laura Silivestro

Laura Silivestro is a success-driven manager with 20+ years of experience in delivering operations performance innovation, designing, and launching strategic plans across multiple departments, and developing customer-centric solutions and employee workflow resolutions that ensure satisfaction and retention. My expertise includes implementation of new systems, processes and tools that enhance workflows and ordering/ticketing management systems. My goal is to always achieve optimal daily operations that promote business growth and integrity while ensuring customer satisfaction and organizational profitability.

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