AT&T’s David Huntley: Understand Where the Growth Opportunities Are

David S. Huntley, SEVP and Chief Compliance Officer, AT&T, is responsible for developing policies to safeguard the privacy of customer and employee information, and verifying compliance with legal and regulatory requirements of every country and jurisdiction in which AT&T operates.

David S. Huntley, SEVP and Chief Compliance Officer, AT&T, is responsible for developing policies to safeguard the privacy of customer and employee information, and verifying compliance with legal and regulatory requirements of every country and jurisdiction in which AT&T operates, as well as AT&T internal compliance requirements. David has held this role since December 2014 and has more than 20 years of business and legal experience with the company.

Prior to being named chief compliance officer, David served as senior vice president and assistant general counsel for AT&T Services. In this role, he oversaw a staff of 47 attorneys and managers located in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Haven, Detroit, St. Louis, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago, Bedminster, Oklahoma City and Dallas. David and his group were responsible for providing legal support to the Home Solutions organization and the Global Marketing organization. Additionally, he was responsible for Legal Department administration. David’s full bio can be found here.

I interviewed David some months back and we had a very good discussion; in fact, we went over the allotted time by 20 minutes, and that doesn’t include the conversation we had before we got started. The interview definitely went off script but in a very positive way. So, instead of posting the interview in its entirety, which is lengthy, I’ve decided to break it into two parts. This is the first part.

Shane Nelson: Can you start off by telling us your story, about your upbringing? You spoke about your dad. Talk about your dad and how instrumental he was in your life, and your journey to AT&T.

David Huntley: I grew up in San Antonio. Both of my parents are native Texans and my dad worked as a chauffeur for a wealthy oil family. He worked for them for over 50 years and he was my hero. He was my hero for a lot of different reasons, but mostly just for the kind of man that he was and the role model that he was. His reputation and character was everything to him. He grew up and worked during a time when he was denied a great deal.

And so for him, he found solace in knowing that who he was meant something to not only himself but to his family. He was a stand-up guy, the guy who was trustworthy, loyal, strong, who respected others and demanded respect, reliable, honest; all of those things that we value when we talk about character and reputation. So he was my role model for that.

He set the standard also by saying, "I don't care what you become, but just be the best at whatever it is." I think what has driven me and my brother to exceed is this whole notion of being the best. So from there I went to college and law school and ended up at SBC after I got out of law school and practiced for a while.

I moved to SBC in-house in 1994. I had a 23-year career at AT&T doing various jobs. I've practiced law, run business units for the company and practiced law again. In December 2014, our CEO [Randall Stephenson] came to me and said he wanted me to become the chief compliance officer for the company.

His idea was it was something that he and the board had been thinking about for some time, and that the company wanted to elevate compliance to a direct-reporting position to the CEO. That would then show how strong the company's commitment was to this space, to ethics compliance. So I've been in this role since December of 2014.

Shane Nelson: One quick question before we get into the questions I sent to you. Did your father experience any bias toward him and his family? How did he communicate that to you and your brother, about being resilient and overcoming it?

David Huntley: He was born in 1912, so you could see he grew up during the depression, and I could tell you that he saw a lot of ugliness in his time. But he always said, "You can't let that stop you from being who you are, because if you do, you'll never be a happy person." And so he always lived in the future. He saw that things were changing. He saw what the movement was all about, and he saw that we were making strides and headway.

You know, he was fortunate to work for somebody who was a good person and who treated him with respect, and allowed him to be who he was. That really was his safe harbor. But that didn't mean he was oblivious to what was going on around him. In terms of what he did for me and for my brother, the biggest thing he gave us was he didn't pass along hate, because he had every right to hate but he didn't.

He always told us that it was the art of the possible, that's the future. Look ahead, don't look back; but look at what is to come. He saw things were changing and he said to us, "Be prepared. Be prepared for when things change, for when things open up," and that's why when I talk to groups, my sons in particular, it's always about being prepared, how you are positioning yourself to take advantage of the future.

Shane Nelson: That was great. Thank you. Let's get into the questions here. First one: why is diversity and inclusion important to you? Let me preface this. On May 2, we had our yearly awards ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street where we unveiled the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

AT&T has been on our list for many years and at the event, we announced AT&T went up one spot from No. 4 to No. 3. The company has a very strong culture of diversity and inclusion. I've seen AT&T go through a couple of acquisitions — Cingular Wireless and then recently with DIRECTV. And after every one, acquiring companies that may not have as a strong D&I culture as you, the company gels and recovers well, in terms of workforce and management representation. For AT&T, the integration is seamless. I've seen a number of companies have a difficult time integrating cultures.

D&I is a huge component of how AT&T does business. What does that mean for you personally and professionally?

David Huntley: First of all, thank you for that. Getting to No. 4, that was something, especially as a recognition from DiversityInc. It’s not just something you give out easily. It’s something that you have to work hard to achieve, and so we're very proud. We were very proud when we became No. 4 and even more proud to be No. 3.

And I know that's one spot up, but we feel good about it because we earned it. For me personally, it makes me feel good and proud. It also recognizes the real true value of what diversity brings to the table. It's not just some social construct that we're about, but it really recognizes that we're the best and we are inclusive of all people.

You look at our customer base, at the communities we serve — it just screams, "This is how we win in the market place," for so many different reasons. It's very important to us. It’s one of our hallmarks; it is a part of our DNA. It's what makes us best. It makes us the most competitive, and I think that's how we win. That's kind of a competitive advantage, if you will.

Shane Nelson: Yes, it certainly is. You've been very successful in your professional career from attorney to reporting to Randall Stephenson. How do you define success, and what career advice do you have for being successful?

David Huntley: It goes back to what my dad ingrained inside of me, and that is strive to do your best and to be your best. For me, it’s always seeking ways to contribute. When I've done that, I've been able to showcase my talent. I've been very fortunate that that talent has been recognized, and I have been rewarded accordingly.

But it's not so much about me. I learned early on that you have to take yourself out of it, and you have to think more about your team, what you're trying to accomplish, what you're trying to achieve. If you put your best foot forward, if you bring your best to the table to achieve that goal, that's what speaks well of you, as opposed to, and I never came at this saying, "I wanted that spot," or, "I wanted that position."

My goal, having watched my father, is accomplishing something, and letting that be the driver as opposed to a position or a title.

Shane Nelson: What advice would you provide for people seeking to grow and get promoted at their current company?

David Huntley: First, I think it starts with understanding and knowing the direction of the company. You have to know where the company is going. Then I think you need to ask yourself if you have the skills and the knowledge base to play in whatever direction and area of your business.

So think of it this way. Understand the vision of your company and understand where the growth opportunities are. Ask yourself, "Do I have the skill set to play in that space?" And if you don't, sometimes you don't, then think about how to get those skills so that you can play in that space. It gets back to what I was saying about my father.

My father always said, as a chauffeur, he had to think ahead. He had to understand the routes, and traffic, and all kinds of things. So being prepared, looking to see what was coming around that next bend, anticipating, those are some of the things that I think really helped me.

I would say that is still very relevant today. You've got to take your career into your own hands. That means you have to keep up. I would say to listen to earnings calls if it's a public company to try to understand how the company is doing financially, and get insight into the company’s strategy and where they're going.

If you know that, then you can say, "Well, that's an area that I want to go into,” and then you have to let people know. But ask yourself, "Am I positioned for the future? Am I positioned to play in that space?" And then you have to think about how to let people know. You can be the smartest person in the room. You can have the best skills, but if nobody knows you, if they don't know you're there and they don't know what you can do, it's all for naught.

Part of the equation is getting yourself prepared. The other part of the equation is making sure people know that you exist and what you have to offer.

Shane Nelson: Did you, or do you, have a sponsor or mentor and if so, how have they helped you in your career? Were you a good mentee and could you have advanced without that sponsor?

David Huntley: I'll answer the last question first. I think I could have advanced but it would have taken me a lot longer. I think that everybody needs help. I'll say it again. Everybody needs help. There's a difference between a sponsor and a mentor. A sponsor is somebody who is going to be more of an advocate for you and help you get from place A to B. It can sometimes be the same mentor. And a mentor is somebody who's going to evaluate what it is you bring to the table, how you bring it and what you need to do to get to that next level.

Sponsors typically have an idea of who you are and they've made a determination that you're somebody that they're going to help promote. So I think you need to have both. I've been fortunate to have folks like Ed Whitacre, who's the former CEO of AT&T; Jim Ellis, a former General Counsel of AT&T; Wayne Watts, former General Counsel of AT&T; and Ray Wilkins, he was the first African American who was a direct-report officer to Ed Whitacre, back in the day. It's really having the perspective of different people. Sometimes people are too narrow and they only have one person. I’ve had multiple people that I could bounce ideas off of and that was important.

In terms of being a good protégé or mentee, you have to be an active participant. You have to get on that person's calendar. You have to have smart questions. You have to push to get that critical commentary on who you are and where you are. All too often we only want to hear the good things. It's when you hear the negative, that's what really helps you. Now, the key is, don't dwell on some of the negative. The key is to do something about it and really play your strengths.

Your mentors and your sponsors, if they're really good, they're busy. So it's up to you to make the best use of their time. And part of that is letting them know where you are in your career, what you're doing, what you're accomplishing, if your career has stalled. That's when you need to be asking hard questions, and they can help you figure out why your career has stalled.


Wells Fargo's Le Nette Rutledge Talks Transferrable Veteran Skills and Why it's Important to 'Show Up'

Rutledge, a Senior Learning & Development Consultant at Wells Fargo, talks about her journey transitioning from the U.S. Navy and why it's important to allow your authentic self to show up whether in the military or Corporate America.

Le Nette is a Learning & Development Sr. Consultant within Talent Development & Organization Effectiveness (TDOE) at Wells Fargo. She facilitates courses and programs providing leadership coaching that reinforces the vision and values of the Company for team members across all levels of the organization. Le Nette's 'why' in life is "…to courageously and compassionately impart excellence in every life, place and situation" presented to her.

Le Nette joined Wells Fargo in 2009. Prior to that, she served as a leader of learning teams for Fortune 100/500 companies to include QVC, Inc.; Lowe's Companies, Inc. and Family Dollar Stores, Inc. She retired from the United States Navy after ten (10) years of service. During that time, the fields in which she focused included Leadership Development, Facilitation/Instructional Design, Career Counseling (specifically recruiting) and Anti-submarine Warfare.

Le Nette holds a B.A. in political science from Norfolk State University in Norfolk VA and has begun work on a M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She holds Lean Six-Sigma green belt, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and various coaching certifications.

DI: Tell us a little bit about what it was like transitioning from the military to Corporate America.

Overall, it was fair. I had served in the US Navy for close to ten years. Prior to that time, I had held (what I refer to as ) my first 'real' job as a Bank Teller. The thought of re-entering corporate America and now having a son for whom I needed to provide was a bit intimidating. Thankfully I had a really good Transition Assistance Program experience that equipped me with information and resources to begin seeking employment. I was unemployed for approximately one year before finding continuous employment.

DI: Were there any skills you developed while in the military that have been useful in your current role?

While my primary area of expertise (rating) in the Navy was not directly applicable to most occupations in the corporate sector, the opportunities to direct teams and hone my leadership skills proved to be a great asset. Additionally, collateral assignments provided exposure to and experience in various HR disciplines. For example, since I was a Naval Instructor I learned about facilitation techniques, principles of instructional design and evaluation program effectiveness. As a result, I was able to easily transition into Learning & Development as a civilian occupation. The time I spent as a Naval Recruiter exposed me to recruiting practices, policies and experiences that were helpful when coordinating/supporting mass recruiting efforts (i.e. job fairs, seasonal hiring, conferences, etc…) in the corporate arena.

DI: Were there any ERG's, programs, or even some personal methods used to help with the initial transition of getting acclimated to a new workplace?

Great question! This is where for me there was a most noticeable void. Prior to Wells Fargo, employers with whom I worked offered nothing to assist Veterans with the initial transition. If I found an external resource that could help in my transition, my employers were typically supportive. But again, they offered/developed nothing. It would not be until several years later when joining Wells Fargo that I would (for the first time since I exited the military in 1998) have an employer who offered internal resources/programs to assist members of the military community within the organization.

DI: Also, did you always have an idea of what career or industry you wanted to pursue post-military life?

This question makes me smile. Actually, I credit the Navy with helping me realize that creating consistent and compelling learning experiences was my sweet spot; the point at which what I can do, what others need me to do and what I love to do converge. Since exiting the military, no matter the position or employer, some component of Learning & Development has been a critical component of my job responsibilities. So, a huge 'shout out' and "thank you" to the Navy for helping me discover my passion.

DI: Lastly, there are stereotypes that women can't handle the mental strain of combat or aren't strong enough. In what ways have you personally opposed these gender stereotypes in the military and continue to do so in your new role?

People will think what they think until they are willing to be open to new and different perspectives. For me, it's not so much about challenging stereotypes but rather ushering in a paradigm shift. Reality is, yes. For some women the mental strain of being in combat is more than they can bear. AND, the same is true for some men. Whether I failed or succeeded at points in my military career, it wasn't because I am a woman. It was because I am human and imperfect. This is not to say that others have not had experiences tied to gender stereotypes. It is to say that adversity due to gender was not my reality.

That being said, it is no secret that (generally) women disproportionately face certain dynamics in corporate settings than our male counterparts do (e.g., glass ceiling, equal pay, etc…). How do I usher in a paradigm shift/challenge stereotypes? I simply show up. As my best, authentic, unrelenting self – I show up. I do my best. I challenge the status quo if there is viable challenge to be made. And, I focus on helping others realize and walk their full potential. I'm a woman. When people see me, they know that. So, just in my showing up in this authentic yet results-oriented way, I offer the opportunity for others to reconsider gender stereotypes and shift their paradigm. As my mom would say at times, "Sometimes you have to show 'em rather than tell 'em."

I heard one Wells Fargo leader share this, "The military is a microcosm of society." This is so true. The same stereotypes that abound in society exist in the military…because those who serve in the military bring with them the life experiences, assumptions and beliefs of the societies of which they were previously a part.

Kaiser Permanente's Anthony B. Coleman: Veterans Should Discover Their Passion and Allow it to Lead to a Profession

Coleman, talks with DiversityInc about his journey transitioning from life in the U.S. Navy to working as an Assistant Hospital Administrator for Kaiser Permanente.

Anthony B. Coleman, DHA, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente, Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

He was born at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Ardent (MCM 12). After completing a full sea tour he was transferred to shore duty, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Workforce, Education and Development, as well as a Master of Health Administration.

He later earned a commission as a Naval Officer serving in various roles overseas and afloat, including Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital Beaufort SC, Human Resources Director at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and Medical Operations Officer onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Anthony retired in 2016 with 20 years of honorable service and holds a Doctor of Health Administration Degree and currently serves as the Assistant Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

DI: What was the initial transition like going from the armed services to a civilian career?

My initial thoughts on transition brought unnecessary anxiety. However, when I learned that my preceptor was a retired Air Force Colonel, it helped put me at ease about the transition. On my first day at Kaiser Permanente, the staff and physicians welcomed me and ensured that I had the support I needed to make a successful transition.

DI: What are some skills or habits you developed while serving in the military that have helped you in your current role?

Two things stick out in my mind as important.

The first is transitioning mindset from duty to desire. I joined the navy at 17, and during the first 3-5 years of my military career I didn't realize I was part of something bigger than myself so I competed tasks out of obligation (duty). After completing my first full sea tour, I realized how my efforts contributed to the overall mission of the U.S. Navy and the duties I carried out started to come from a desire to do so. This realization helped shape my leadership style and how I groomed young sailors early on in their enlistments. I wanted them to realize their very important part in the overall U.S. Navy mission and motivate them to bring their "A" game every day.

This has helped in my current role overseeing nine non-clinical departments (Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition, Engineering, Construction, Parking, Safety, Property Management, Telecommunications, Security and Supply Chain Management) where the majority of the employees I oversee are entry-level and can feel disconnected to health care because they are not physicians or nurses. However, I stress to them as often as possible that whether their job is to nourish the patient, clean and disinfect a patient room, make sure life-saving equipment is in working order, or any other of the hundreds of non-clinical functions they perform day in and day out, they too are vital to a patient's health and healing.

The second is attention to detail. Most times, my staff are the first and/or last interaction our members have with Kaiser Permanente. It is crucial for them to pay attention to every detail about the patient they encounter because each and every detail about the patient, large or small can help us do a better job in serving them. Sometimes, it may be as simple as a smile or word of encouragement that could make all the difference in the patient experience.

DI: What career advice can you offer to veterans or current military folks who are looking to pivot, and what types of jobs should they be looking for?

Stay current in world health affairs, as well as the political climate in the US. Now more than ever, politics are shaping our approach to health care and vice versa. Veterans and current military members should make sure they have an idea of where civilian health care is, as well as where it's going in the future, so they can demonstrate their value to potential health care employers.

Devote time to discovering their passion and allow it to lead them to a profession. So often, when military members plan to transition to civilian life, they tend to focus on their ability to continue providing for their families beyond military service. This can cause us to accept positions for the sake of securing post military employment, or accept positions that are not aligned with our core beliefs, or passion.

DI: Did you always have an idea of the type of career you wanted to pursue after the military?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I began planning my exit from the military in 2005 when I discovered my passion for eliminating health disparities however, because I was a single father of a 5 year old girl, my mom convinced me to complete a full career first.

In 2004, the Navy sent me to graduate school to learn how to be a health administrator. During the summer of 2005, I interned at Wallace Thomson Hospital in rural Union County, South Carolina. While there I met a kitchen worker who impressed me with her skill in preparing meals for all of the sick patients at the hospital, specific to their individual needs. Her name was Pee Wee and even though she never finished high school, and worked a second job to make ends meet she somehow found a way to show compassion for each patient while contributing to the healing environment.

After the rotation was complete, I went back to finish graduate school and learned that Pee Wee died of a stroke. She was 52. Her death really affected me and I began to look at how a person in America could die so young of a preventable health issue. That's when I learned about health disparities and discovered my passion for eliminating them. I understand that I may not be able to complete this task in my lifetime however, I am completely comfortable with making it my life's work at Kaiser Permanente.


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