Women's History Month at Oath: Knowing your worth
Suzanne Haskell means business. "The women who are entering the world of technology have to, first and foremost, recognize their professional and personal worth." The tech veteran and co-lead for Oath's women's employee resource group, Suzanne is determined women advocate for what they deserve—and what they want. "You have to know where you stand. You have to know your worth and believe it. If you don't advocate for yourself, no one else will." It's Women's History Month and we definitely want to learn more.
Name: Suzanne Haskell
Title: VP, Integration and Business Operations at Verizon Digital Media Services
Location: Basking Ridge, NJ
Years at Oath: 5
Previous employers: AT&T, Pearson
Education: Boston University undergrad / Babson College graduate degree
Major: Finance and Organizational Behavior undergrad / Accounting masters
Hometown: Ramsey, NJ
Outside of work: Raising teenage triplets who play soccer, soccer and, more soccer
Oath: Embrace the change
Tell us about what you do at Oath.
In a nutshell, I help the organization work through change. Basically, my role is to take processes or business models that might not be as mature as they need to be and define them, build transparency and understanding, create metrics of success, and then institutionalize them and make it "business as usual". I like to help the organization normalize change.
You were brought into Oath via Verizon, and into Verizon right before the Uplynk and Edgecast acquisitions. But what about before all that?
I started with a degree in finance and a minor in organizational behavior in college and then earned a Masters in accounting. I felt I needed to understand the numbers to know how a business worked, and the organizational behavior because I wanted to understand the people who influenced the numbers. Those skills provided an incredible foundation that enabled me to work and live on every continent but one (Antarctica). It's always fascinated me to see how businesses go global and how different cultures contribute to the global economy.
You are passionate about helping women advance in their careers, but we know that's not exactly how you got to where you are today.
When I started my career, sexual harassment wasn't on the books. Women had to wear pantyhose and skirts below the knee to work, you could smoke in the office—it was a totally different world. If there was any room, there was only room for one woman at the top, like the token. It was a break-the-glass-ceiling-but-drag-everyone-else-down mentality. I had a lot of amazing male sponsors in my life—but mostly only male sponsors. Most of the women I worked with who were at my level or above were not too supportive of advancing other women's careers as that might come at the expense of their own professional development.
As I began to advance my own career, I didn't want to be 'that' woman. I realized the boat wouldn't sink if there were more of us in it. In fact, the boat becomes stronger when we row together. So I have always taken an active role in lifting talented (women) up. I invest in smart people because I want to work for them someday.
You're one of the leaders of our women's employee resource group, WIN (Women's Inclusion Network). What does Women's History Month mean to you?
I don't want Women's History Month to be a Hallmark holiday. This month is a good opportunity to stop and reflect, say thanks to the people who have supported you and to pay it forward.
It's also permission to open a dialogue with people about what it's like being a woman, or working with women. I've had the opportunity because of Women's History Month to talk to several men about what they think it means to manage women, or work for a woman, or to work alongside women. It's been fascinating.
Why is WIN important at Oath?
The reason I got so involved here was because I saw more and more women leave and I started to understand that my experiences with male sponsors were very unique. I consider myself very fortunate but I wanted to create a place where we could have an honest dialogue about what it's like to be women building our careers. We're major contributors at Oath.
I try to always be available to people. I put myself out there and let people know they can come talk to me about anything, at anytime—career advice, personal advice, what it's like to be a working woman. I'm very honest and straightforward. It's not always pretty or what you want to hear, but I'm very direct and transparent about my personal experiences if that will help somebody. I'm a working mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, I take my career seriously and don't apologize for wanting to have a big career. If I'm going to be here, it's got to count. My time is money. It's an investment.
Where does that confidence come from?
It's being practical. My career is a big part of what defines me and how I spend my time. If I'm going to do it, I'm not going to to just pass the time. I'm going to lean in and make the most of it.
To read more about our Women's History Month coverage, please see our feature on MAKERS Senior Producer Elizabeth Bohnel