By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Sue Anderson is CenturyLink’s vice president and general manager (VP/GM) <!–more–>for the Seattle Metro area. Prior to being named VP/GM, she oversaw Network Operations in Washington for Qwest, predecessor to CenturyLink, for 16 years.
Throughout 2011, Anderson has led by example and has leveraged community participation as a bridge for increasing employee morale and engagement. This year alone, she led 270 employees as “team captain Sue Anderson” in the Komen Race for the Cure, walked with EAGLE (Employee Association of Gays and Lesbians) employees at the AIDSWALK in September, and pulled weeds at the Arboretum on Earth Day with the CenturyLink Pioneers group. Most recently, in CenturyLink’s annual United Way campaign, Anderson and her team went on a tour with a trike and challenged employees to race at CenturyLink garage locations.
Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a master’s degree from Seattle Pacific University.
1. Why is it important to you to contribute to your community?
It is important to be a good steward of the community. In order to build a strong, sustainable community, we need volunteers that can contribute their time to help others improve their lives.
Individuals have opportunities to give back to their community in so many ways, whether that is through helping those battling serious illnesses, [those that are] homeless, or [those that] are just down on their luck and need support.
“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day,” [a quote from] Sally Koch.
2. What does the word diversity mean to you and how do you foster it in your work?
In my eyes, diversity translates to talent. Diversity allows me to bring people together from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and life experiences — and with that comes unique ideas and suggestions.
I have been very fortunate to recently create a new team in Seattle that possesses a diverse backdrop that includes women and men from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and age groups. I want to have the advantage of those varied perspectives on my team as we determine what products and services to offer and how to package and advertise them to our customers. Bringing this team together often creates very lively and spirited conversations that come up with new and innovative ways to create new solutions and suggestions for improving our business.
3. What was one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your work?
One of the biggest challenges that I have faced at work is managing a workforce that has many more years of service and experience than my own. I have had to demonstrate my leadership skills and gain a vast amount of technical knowledge in order to gain the trust and support of my teams.
4. What was one of your proudest moments in your work?
One of my proudest moments at work has been watching an employee that I have mentored become promoted into a higher level of management. It makes me proud to know that I was able to dedicate my time to help someone else reach their goals.
5. Can you finish this sentence? “My work excites me because …”
My work excites me because I get to work with wonderful employees each day that want to provide the best customer experience possible. I get to work in a beautiful community and feel that my employees really want to make a difference in the community that we serve.
6. If you could pick only one trait, what trait do you think is the most important for a leader?
I think the most important trait of a leader is perseverance.
A great leader will have a vision and will ultimately have hills and challenges they must overcome in order to reach that vision. A great leader will continue to persevere even when times are challenging in order to reach their goal. A strong leader will have to encourage and empower their team members to persevere as well and continue to paint the picture of the end goal.
7. If you could compare your leadership style to that of a historical figure, who would that be?
Princess Diana, the “people’s princess.” Princess Diana was very empathetic and very dedicated to stewardship. She was committed to the growth of people and building community. She empowered her followers by enhancing their perceptions of self-efficacy and their confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles by using verbal persuasion and by functioning as a role model. Her legacy continues to live through her children, who are very dedicated to stewardship and building up communities.
In my role at CenturyLink, I try to be very empathetic to my fellow employees, as well as those in our community. I try to bring awareness to the issues beyond CenturyLink, but also issues that affect the communities in which we live and serve.
8. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing today, what other job do you think you’d be good at?
I have a natural tendency to want to teach others. I think that I would be good at teaching because I enjoy seeing people connect the dots and understand the concepts they are trying to learn.
9. Do you have a secret talent? What is it?
Card making. I really enjoy making my own personalized greeting cards. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative and produce something very unique and heartfelt for my friends and family.
10. If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be?
I would describe myself as caring, patient, faithful. (end)
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.