Paul Rosenbaum has a challenge.
As senior vice president of Service Excellence for AT&T Business, he has an incredible range of responsibilities, but one challenge that causes him concern is how to continuously develop future leaders to help manage the company’s operations in India.
The telecom giant is looking for creative ways to address this challenge, and Rosenbaum said that they may have found a possible solution — graduate student interns from the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Rosenbaum, a member of the school’s board of advisors, said he was incredibly pleased with the work a team of master's students in the Business Intelligence & Analytics program completed over an eight-week period in AT&T’s Hyderabad office this summer.
“We don’t have a problem identifying and hiring large numbers of technical people,” he said. “Our challenge is hiring and retaining leadership team members. Stevens students have strong technical backgrounds and having strength and confidence in technology makes you that much more qualified to be a leader in a technology company.”
Bilingual in business, analytics
Stevens business students are bilingual in business and analytics, which makes them well suited to leading technical teams. AT&T, Rosenbaum said, needs leaders “who have analytical skills to help look at the performance and metrics, and use that data to help make business decisions.”
That’s a core strength of the BI&A master’s program.
“There may be multiple solutions to a problem, but there’s only one business solution,” said Poojan Gajera, who expects to graduate in December 2019. “The best way to solve a problem technically may not be viable from a business perspective. Stevens taught us how can we see the problem from the viewpoint of a manager.”
AT&T Business serves virtually all of the Fortune 1000 companies around the world. As such, its customers have extensive global service requirements, and AT&T has a large presence in India to help meet their needs.
The interns’ technical skills helped them develop a tool that automated certain processes for how AT&T manages networks for its third-party clients. That tool will both save time and reduce manual error, said Sanjay Pattanayak, who expects to complete his degree this December.
“There are some automation projects in place there, some databases they’ve created, but there’s much more the teams can be doing with analytics and technology,” said Pattanayak, whose résumé includes work at Ericsson, Nokia, Tata and Reliance.
A long history between AT&T, Stevens
That kind of insight is exactly what Rosenbaum wanted in engaging the five interns, which also included BI&A students Dhaval Sawlani, Divya Rathore and Rohan Gala. The goal of the initiative, he said, is to create a pipeline of Stevens talent that can eventually assume leadership roles in India.
“AT&T has enjoyed a long history with Stevens,” Rosenbaum said. “We know the quality of the students, and many of our executives are Stevens alumni. My team in India and my team in the U.S. were really impressed with these students’ capabilities.”
Pattanayak and Gajera both said they plan to return to India to pursue careers after getting U.S. work experience upon completing their degrees. Pattanayak, in particular, was impressed with the culture he got to be a part of at AT&T.
“This is the first place I’ve worked where equal opportunity is given to individuals to bring ideas to the table or suggest solutions, rather than just top-down leadership,” he said. “Having that independence, and being encouraged to put your ideas into action, enables the development of you as an individual and strengthens the organization.”
While on the job, the student team relied on their Stevens lessons to ensure their recommendations to AT&T leadership hit the mark. Gajera called Dr. Ted Stohr, academic coordinator of the BI&A program, a particularly strong influence as he thought about connecting his work with the business goals of AT&T.
“Professor Stohr reminded us of what Einstein once said — if you cannot explain the theory to a small child, you do not understand the theory yourself,” he said. “That perspective really helped me on this internship.”