Laura Hernandez is the Executive Director of Diversity Marketing for AT&T, and Liz and I have both been fortunate to have known her most of our professional lives. We have seen Laura go from Intern to Executive Director, all the while volunteering her time and talents to the betterment of her community. A 17-year veteran at AT&T, Laura currently oversees the creation of products and marketing messages directed to African-American, Asian-Americans, Americans with Disabilities, Veterans and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community.
1. As marketer in a highly competitive field, how do you keep yourself and your teams on top of market dynamics and consumer trends?
I stay very connected to consumers through constant consumer interactions. My team and I speak to consumers on a regular basis but the greatest assets are our own employees.
By tapping employee resource groups (ERG’s) like our African American organization, Community NETwork, or LEAGUE our LGBT organization, we get real-time insight into our own consumers. Many of the members of our ERG’s work in our retail stores or call centers so they can give us valuable information they gather from their every day jobs. They are also very involved in their communities so they have direct connections to the communities we serve.
2. What marketing trend(s) are you most excited about?
I am excited about all the things consumers are able to do on tablets and phones. Especially the way they are consuming media/entertainment on smart phones and tablets.
3. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the campaigns we have launched using social media. We have been able to harness the power of social media to reach and connect authentically with our diverse consumers. Specifically, what we have accomplished in the LGBT and Asian segments in the social space. Beginning with “Away We Happened” and more recently “Love is Changing History“.
4. What’s your favorite thing about the work you do?
I have a love/hate relationship with how fast technology is changing. The pace of change is exhilarating yet, it feels like we are always on a roller coaster hanging on for dear life.
5. I know you are a voracious reader, what books have you found to be instrumental in your business and/or career success? How so?
I love Strength Finders by Tom Rath. I had a chance to go through the Gallup Centers assessment of my strengths about eight years ago. Since then, I have urged all my team members to read the book to learn about the basic principles. Too often, we are trying to find ways to improve ourselves – this concept is the exact opposite. Don’t try to change who you are – instead play to your strengths. It has allowed me to work smarter and be more effective. Using the same ideas, when I see strengths in my team members I tend to give them opportunities that allow them to showcase those strengths. It has paid off in the results my team gets and I have happy team members.