International Women’s Day 2021: 10 Inspiring and Influential Women in Telecom

With March 8, 2021 being International Women’s Day, it’s the perfect time to share our alphabetical rundown of just 10 of the many women who are inspiring us and influencing the telecom industry. We hope you will be equally inspired, and feel free to reach out to us with further suggestions.

Tiffany Baehman, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cricket Wireless

Baehman has an impressive resume. With 25 years of experience, she leads Cricket’s marketing efforts, including advertising, promotions, sponsorship, product management, acquisition and retention, retail merchandising, and consumer insights, to name a few. Cricket is one of the fastest growing companies in prepaid wireless, and during this time, Baehman has overseen a company-wide brand redesign, award-winning ad campaigns, and innovative pricing plans. Before she joined Cricket, she was AT&T’s Vice President and General Manager.

Carolyn Brandon, Vice President of Policy, CTIA

As a well-respected telecom lawyer and former clerk for the FCC's office of plans and policy, Carolyn Brandon joined CTIA—The Wireless Association in 2004. As the Vice President of Policy, Brandon works closely with CTIA member companies to ensure that the association is positioning itself properly on issues. She has worked with more than 200 members to develop strategic, national public policies for the U.S. commercial wireless industry. Brandon also formed the consulting firm Whitworth Analytics LLC in 2011, where she provides decision support and strategic policy counsel to companies in the high tech, broadband, and wireless sectors.

Anne Chow, Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Business

Anne is the first woman to hold the top position at AT&T and is now the highest ranking Asian American person in the company. With nearly 30 years in the telecom, she strove to break the ceiling with non-traditional roles that spanned direct and indirect sales, to operations, to P&L management. Anne created one of AT&T’s fastest growing Employee Networks—AT&T Women of Business—which has 4,800 members across 27 countries.

Wendy Drummond, Chief Executive Officer, Premier Locations

Drummon is Chief Executive Officer of Premier Locations, the largest US Cellular authorized retailer in the country with 42 stores in seven states. She’s also an attorney, a business owner, and does charity work. She estimates she spends 50+ hours a week managing, traveling, and motivating her 250 employees. When asked if the barriers for women are just as prevalent as when she started as a receptionist at her attorney office, Drummond replied, “Absolutely. Do I have a small chip on my shoulder? Yes, because it happens once or twice a week. But my National Director of Sales at the cell phone company is a woman and many of our top leaders are women. We joke that women are taking over the world. We have some great men, too.”

Karen Freitag, Chief Revenue Officer, Aryaka Networks

With a broad background in executive sales leadership that includes Carrier, Enterprise, and Enterprise Channels, Freitag joined Aryaka from Rivada Networks, where she served as the Executive Vice President of worldwide sales. Freitag has an extensive track record driving growth in highly complex global sales organizations through developing innovative go-to-market strategies, creating operational efficiencies and building high-performance teams for companies such as IBM, Siemens, Ericsson, and Sprint. Prior to Rivada, she served as the president of Sprint’s global enterprise business unit where she oversaw the provider’s IoT, wholesale, and SD-WAN businesses.

Kathleen Ham, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, T-Mobile

As the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at T-Mobile, Ham manages all public policy issues before federal and state governments impacting the company. Her team regularly engages Congress, the FCC, state agencies, and other governmental bodies on a wide range of regulatory and policy issues, including spectrum, consumer, public safety, and competition matters. If that’s not impressive enough, Ham has led numerous successful efforts to gain additional radio spectrum for the company, including most recently, the acquisition of 600 MHz frequencies to expand T-Mobile’s coverage and deploy 5G technology. 

Sue Monahan, Chief Executive Officer, Small Cell Forum

Another CEO with nearly 30 years industry experience, Monahan is the Chief Executive Officer of Small Cell Forum and held previous roles at AT&T, Verizon, and Tecordia. During her tenure, she has steered the Forum through a transition from a largely residential market in 2014, to one where small cells are connecting the unconnected in rural and remote environments and underpinning large enterprise and public access deployments.

Nicola Palmer, Chief Product Development Officer, Verizon

As the head of technology and product at one of the largest wireless networks, Nicola Palmer is tasked with the responsibility for planning, engineering, building, and operating Verizon Wireless’ industry-leading voice and data networks, including its growing 5G capabilities. Prior to her current role, Palmer was Senior Vice President of Global Network Operations and Engineering at Verizon, responsible for planning, designing and operations of the company’s global voice, data and IP networks, which span more than 2,600 cities in 150 countries on six continents. That role also saw her leading the engineering and operations of the fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network, which enables Verizon's FiOS data and TV services.

Catherine Smith, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, Brightstar

Catherine Smith is responsible for leading the global legal operations for the world’s leading mobile services company. She worked with Brightstar founder and former Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure on a series of acquisitions that helped secure SoftBank's $1.26 billion investment in Brightstar in late 2013. With over 20 years of industry experience, Smith previously served as Vice President and Lead Counsel for Motorola, Inc. and Motorola Mobility. She speaks globally about the benefits of diversity in the workplace.  

Jennifer Van Buskirk, Senior Vice President of Wireless Marketing, AT&T

Previously the President of Cricket Wireless, Van Buskirk is responsible for leading Operations for the Digital, Retail and Care organization at AT&T, which provides customer support and drives sales of wireless, video, and broadband services nationwide. Previously, Van Buskirk was President of the East Region in AT&T’s Entertainment Group, where she oversaw sales across 20 states and the District of Columbia. She led more than 11,000 employees in more than 5,200 company owned and authorized retail locations.