Kristi Crum of Verizon on Keeping a Line Open for Rural Communities

Kristi Crum replaced the late Dean Taylor as president of Verizon’s south-central region in February.

Crum began her career in 2001 as an analyst for Alltel Corp. in Little Rock. She continued working for the company following its acquisition in 2009 by Verizon. She has worked at Verizon’s headquarters in New Jersey and was most recently director of retail sales for Verizon’s northern California region. Her current position will return her to her home city of Little Rock.

Crum graduated from Hendrix College in Conway.

Do you view Arkansas’ prevalence of rural areas — where phone signals are typically weaker — as a challenge?

Arkansas does have a good number of small towns and rural areas and that re-emphasizes the need for a reliable wireless network. Verizon’s goal is for our customers to have reliable coverage, regardless of where they live — whether it’s in a small town of 300 or in a major metropolitan area.

Verizon invested $9.4 billion in its nationwide wireless network last year, and that investment is part of our commitment to providing coverage in rural communities and along state highways and interstates from border to border. In 2011, we were the first wireless carrier to bring the 4G LTE network to Arkansas, and last year we substantially completed our rollout of that network. Our team will continue to enhance our 4G LTE network, adding new capabilities for our customers.

As more people watch their favorite TV shows and movies on their tablets, how does that impact Verizon’s Internet services division?

Live video streaming is another benefit of our 4G LTE network. The network allows Verizon customers to download videos faster and watch them without delay due to buffering. With the increasing popularity of video streaming, we have customized plans for customers and provide them with even more data.

You are a woman in a powerful position. In a business traditionally dominated by men, what advice would you offer to other women?

I work for a great company and Verizon certainly is an industry-leading organization that develops and promotes its leaders based on talent, drive and success, regardless of their gender. Every marketplace is highly competitive, and I believe there is more power and potential for success when a company, any company, is open-minded to the ideas and innovation than any employee brings to the table.

My advice is to work hard, be curious, learn more about the areas that intimidate you and maintain a beginner’s mind: Beginners are never afraid to ask questions and they have a passion for the business. Know what you bring to the table and know that it doesn’t matter that you’re a woman. Smart women left their mark in business and innovation long ago, and that won’t change. Be brief. Be bold. Be gone. Work on being interested, rather than interesting. Be you. Authenticity is invaluable.

Based on the previous question, what sorts of challenges did you encounter in getting where you are?

In some companies, it is more challenging for women to advance in their careers; however, Verizon is not one of those companies. Verizon rewards hard work and success and is often recognized as a top company for working mothers. Here, your success is based on your performance, not on your gender or tenure, and there are numerous opportunities to advance. The challenges I faced were more around learning from experience but, again, challenges and even failure are necessary for success. You develop your worth to the company, stand firm behind your value, remain authentic and determine how to balance a fast-paced career and family.