An Advocate for Action - A Conversation with Michelle Jordan
Growing up in an environment of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship often results in an individual being well-rounded and motivated to achieve the same. Seeing struggle, developing resilience, and overcoming challenges can have the same effect. How we grow up, what we are encouraged to do and the things we’re exposed to during our formative years play a significant role in who we become.
We are in conversation with Michelle Jordan, an executive at AT&T. Michelle is a strong believer in the combined power of employee and customer experience and she is passionate about the growth and development of small businesses.
An accomplished businesswoman, Michelle is a prime example of someone who grew up surrounded by inspiration, advocation, and determination. Along with this upbringing, she was intrinsically motivated and innately passionate about entrepreneurship and small businesses. She studied hard, worked persistently, raised a family while simultaneously starting her own business, and then re-entered the corporate world with AT&T. Her journey had its obstacles, but she navigated each one and became the advocate for action she is today.
Michelle shares her journey and experiences while she portrays how her upbringing shaped the person she is today and became the foundation of all her beliefs.
Michelle, can you please share a bit about your upbringing and background? How did it make you the person you are today?
“I grew up in a close-knit family — single-parent home. I watched my mother navigate challenges as if she were swatting flies. I was able to learn so many important values from her — courage, adventure, bravery, determination, and resilience, are a few that come to mind. Because of this, I have always been willing and able to combat any challenge. The community I grew up in was also extremely close — people around us were some of my biggest advocates. Though protective, they poured into me because they saw something bigger and better for me than the cards they’d been dealt. My father, although he did not live with us, had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, as did my maternal grandfather who filled the void as a father figure. He too possessed a bold, action-centric and entrepreneurial nature which greatly influenced me. So, as you can see, my entire background and upbringing reflect who I am today. I stand on incredibly strong shoulders and that truly is my guiding star.”
Michelle, can you tell us more about how you kick-started your professional journey? Where and how did it all begin?
“Delving into my professional journey, I am formally trained as a chemical engineer. Prior to joining AT&T, I worked in the chemicals and manufacturing industry — along the way gathering some incredible advocates and supporters. I was fortunate that my leadership team invested in my development and urged me to go to grad school. So, I was able to get an MBA early in my career. This allowed me to marry my chemical engineering experience with business management and it gave me a unique footing in the industry — straddling a technical aptitude that enabled me to quickly build trust and credibility currency for relationship building along with an understanding of the business strategy. During this period, I decided I was ready to start a family. Unfortunately, I did not have many examples of a successful, full-on career mother and wife — I just couldn’t see that intersection for myself. I decided to off-ramp and focus on my family. Simultaneously, I started my own business. It took a lot of planning and hard work, but the determined entrepreneur in me knew this was a challenge I was prepared to take head-on. Even back then customer experience and filling a gap were the focal point of my business. I launched a communications consultancy and retail business in Midtown Atlanta and did this for five years while simultaneously raising a family and sparking up other entrepreneurial ventures.”
That sounds like an interesting start to your career. What then led you to AT&T?
“Once the kids were a bit older I embarked on my long and exciting journey with AT&T where I still am today. I started as a Product Development Manager in the yellow pages business, and today, I lead Talent & Leadership Development as Vice President of AT&T’s Leader Lab.
“I was intrigued by the challenge of reentering the corporate world in an altogether different industry, but never lost sight of the value of small businesses and how extremely important the customer experience is to any business’s success — that will always be engrained in my essence. I have walked a mile in the shoes of the struggle small business owners face building and sustaining their businesses, so I will always continue to invest in and appreciate small businesses and the role they play in society. More than 4.4 million new businesses were created in the U.S. during 2020 — the highest total on record, according to the Census Bureau — that is remarkable. At AT&T, we are committed to enabling the success of small businesses through the products, services, and countless resources we offer in the market. We also make significant investments in diverse suppliers and community partners. Our goal is not only to help small businesses get started but also to grow and be successful. And we deliver remarkable value regardless of where a small business is in its lifecycle. Also, AT&T’s supplier diversity program connects certified minority-, woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and disability-owned business enterprises with opportunities to provide products and services to AT&T around the world. We value an inclusive supply chain and recognize its contributions to our success.
“Who I am as a professional goes way beyond my job description. I strive to make a difference outside the capacity of my role at AT&T. And although it provides a strong foundation it also gives me a platform to advocate for premier employee and customer experiences and to add value to our ever-growing support of small businesses.”
Thanks for sharing, Michelle.
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