As CenturyLink’s vice president of operations for Washington, Sue Anderson bears the responsibility of maintaining the telecommunication company’s voice, internet and video services for the state.
Despite her high-pressure role on the job, Anderson isn’t bothered when random friends and family give her feedback outside of work about their personal experiences with CenturyLink’s phone and internet service.
“I have some who call me when their internet has a little blip in the system,” she said. And that’s fine by her.
Anderson, who for 17 years has worked for Qwest and then CenturyLink when they merged in 2011, says that she welcomes their input, even when it’s little annoyances that people experience.
“I want to hear about it,” Anderson said. “Some of the complaints that I have a had from family and friends have led to system fixes.”
Anderson said that she’s one of two women in her role in the Northwest, which includes overseeing all of the in-the-field technicians — the ones who show up at your house or business for installation or repairs.
Despite being in a male-dominated field, she doesn’t let her gender become a stigma or excuse for holding herself back.
She remembers having a “light-bulb moment” that helped her shake off any lack of confidence and propelled her forward professionally. Anderson was put in charge of a telecom engineering and construction team, though her background was an MBA in marketing and HR. She was also one of the youngest people in the group, and suddenly their director.
“That position taught me that it’s managing the people and the processes,” Anderson said. She realized that she had the necessary skills. “It’s not that I have to be an engineer.”
We caught up with Anderson for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: My main office is in downtown Seattle at Bell Plaza on 7th Avenue, but I also maintain an office at our garage on 1st Avenue.
Computer types: I prefer to work in Windows. I’m proficient on most devices, and use HP at work and Dell at home.
Mobile devices: I use an iPad and an iPhone 6. Staying connected is very important so I have both work and home email on my devices.
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: I have so many, but some of my favorites apps are The Skimm, Pinterest, Waze, Today Show and Sworkit. Microsoft OneDrive for cloud so I’m backed up on everything. Software tools for work include looking at the service loads every day and making sure our techs are doing a good job, which means checking productivity metrics and customer service scores.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I have a lovely office on the 15th floor. The view really does inspire me. I get to work with great people every day and it makes my job interesting and enjoyable.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Organization is the key. Put everything on your calendar. I also have a purple notebook with everything in it. I keep good notes on meetings, conversations and ideas. Since I’m on 24-7, it’s really important to know what’s going on and if there is an outage at 2 a.m., I always have my notes with me!
I also recommend building some autonomy into your work life. Since we are connected on all devices, I am able to go on a field trip with my daughters and still be reachable via my cell. And be sure to get out of dodge, take vacation time with the family and disconnect. It’s very difficult to do, but I have a great team that I can count on as I am recharging.
I try to be communicative. My family and daughters understand that I have a job that takes me away — sometimes in the middle of dinner — but I’m there when it matters and when they need me. They get to come with me occasionally and see mom at work and I enjoy that.
Finally, have a great support network of family and friends at home, and treat those helping you, in our case our nanny, with respect.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? LinkedIn is great for tracking trends in business and keeping up-to-speed with friends and colleagues in the industry. I use Twitter for business and I love Instagram for connecting with friends.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Right not I have a rolling 50. By the end of the day, I try to get them all answered — just to start all over fresh again tomorrow.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? I average about 25 appointments and meetings a week. This week is lighter as people are planning to be off for vacation next week.
How do you run meetings? Always have an agenda. Make everyone feel welcome by offering a positive or constructive comment for each person. Encourage everyone to participate. Make it a collaborative effort: everyone can contribute and contributions are valued. Be inclusive of those inside and outside direct reports. And I’m a stickler for being on time.
Everyday work uniform? Usually business casual, but I dress for the day and the meetings I have scheduled and the weather!
How do you make time for family? I make sure that all of my children’s events are on my calendar and I block that time to be with them. We plan family vacations and time off together, and we have family dinner time every night to eat together and discuss how the day went.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Gym time. Riding bikes and playing with the kids.
What are you listening to? On the way to work in the morning it’s KOMO 1000, a news radio program, to get caught up on current news stories locally and nationally.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? The Skimm, Fierce Telecom, Seattle Times and Puget Sound Business Journal
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, “How to Get Sh*t Done” by Erin Falconer and “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni
Night owl or early riser? Early riser. I try to get to bed by 10 p.m. by setting a goal of 9:30 p.m. I aim for seven or more hours of sleep — I’ve found that I’m happier and more productive that way.
Where do you get your best ideas? Hairdryer moments in the morning as I’m getting ready for the day. My team loves hearing about my hairdryer ideas!
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? There are several amazing women who I have taken notice of over the years and they each have traits that I try to incorporate into my work and home life. Jean Thompson, the founder of Seattle Chocolate, is someone I’ve met and admire. I love how she’s creating new flavors for her chocolate, and how they donate a fresh serving of food to someone who would otherwise go without. She began her career in marketing, much like I did, and has an amazing work ethic. I’d like to think I bring some of that same creativity and tenacity to my work here at CenturyLink. She has to think “outside of the box” and has learned to be strategic — something I do every day.