Urmi Picone, a proud graduate of the MEM program, currently serves as the Area Manager Outside Plant Planning & Engineering Design in the Architecture, Technology and Operations Organization at AT&T. She manages a team of 13 design engineers who are responsible for all of the wireline network design (copper & fiber facilities) for the Chicago Northwest geography.
MEM: How would you describe a typical day in your role at AT&T?
Urmi: A typical day for me is never the same. It could include meetings internally with partner organizations to plan, design and project manage large scale AT&T network upgrade builds. It could also include meetings with external customers ordering AT&T fiber services and/or copper services for their business or residence and in some cases municipal organizations to secure permits to place network facilities in their right-of-way.
MEM: What do you like most about your job?
Urmi: A few key items stand out – first, working with the latest technologies and being on the forefront of the telecom industry. Second, every day is different; it is a fast paced environment, I constantly encounter new challenges, and am learning every day. Finally, leading a team is very rewarding. As an individual contributor you have more control of your successes but managing a team drives a need for strong leadership and soft skills to drive success.
MEM: How did the MEM program help drive your career growth?
Urmi: The skills I acquired from the MEM program (both academic & leadership) have allowed me to move into new roles/opportunities very easily and with confidence. Top skills acquired from the MEM Program include, first recognizing the tie between management and engineering and seeing the value of having knowledge in both as vital. Secondly, it was my first real exposure to data driven analysis and process improvement which drove me to pursue my Six Sigma Black belt at AT&T.
There are two classes that stand out for me from the MEM program – Negotiations (Professor Werwath) and Strategic Management (Professor McNeeley). Both allowed me to improve and gain confidence in my communication skills (written & oral) and I would not be where I am today without that confidence.
MEM: What advice do you have for students who are currently enrolled in the program?
Urmi: Take advantage of the network you can build while in the program – students, faculty, professors, etc. Once you graduate, maintain those relationships and contacts.
Urmi is heavily involved in AT&T mentoring programs both as a mentor to employees in her organization as well as recent college hires in our Technology Development Program. In addition, she is a mentee of Mentor Circles lead by AT&T senior leadership serves on the leadership team of a AT&T employee resource group called oxyGEN. Her her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and fitness.