Stacy Schwartz is the Executive Director of Federal Civilian Sales with AT&T Government Solutions. She has spent her career in technology and telecommunications in variety of roles prior to joining AT&T.
In her current role, Schwartz leads an organization focused on providing critical network, technology, and professional services solutions to Federal Civilian agencies. She has become a key player in AT&T’s STEM initiatives that introduce youth to STEM-related careers at an early age.
WashingtonExec recently interviewed Schwartz on AT&T’s STEM education initiatives, specifically getting more girls interested in the STEM fields, her market outlook for 2014, the evolution of cloud services and virtualization, as well as the one gadget that she can’t live without.
WashingtonExec: What made you want to take a leadership role in AT&T’s D.C.-area STEM efforts?
Stacy Schwartz: On a corporate scale, a focal point for AT&T is to support education from a broad vantage point. A lot of that has to do with technology and other disciplines that are obviously related to STEM. As part of that, AT&T has done a a lot at both the local and national level to support our educational outreach initiatives.
For example, we created a monitoring program for young people called Aspire that is focused on giving young students with an interest in science and technology and opportunity to work with AT&T professionals. We also present internships and fellowships through AT&T Labs which focus on research and development pursuits. We provide scholarships and internships to graduate students and we have organize activities utilizing some of our AT&T subject matter experts. Recently, we participated in Girls That Code, in New York, where we facilitated competitive activities supporting young women entering into technology-focused fields. Overall, there’s a great amount of desire to increase the amount of STEM activity and I have not found a shortage of receptivity.
“I think it’s important to support the federal government and our efforts as a nation to maintain competitiveness. Being in Washington and being around that sense of where we are, as a country – you begin to notice that we have some gaps in interest levels.”
WashingtonExec: What made you personally want to grow AT&T’s STEM initiatives?
Stacy Schwartz: There are a couple of reasons. First, I think it’s important to support the federal government and our efforts as a nation to maintain competitiveness. Being in Washington and being around that sense of where we are, as a country – you begin to notice that we have some gaps in interest levels.
On a personal level, education has always interested me. I have a couple of children who are extremely interested in several of the STEM fields and I see what’s out there for them and what more could be done. It gives me a real personal perspective on the need to do more, present more, to open up young folks’ minds while they are in the early stages of education to the practical applications of STEM. I live it every day. Those are the things that drove me both personally and professionally to spend my energy and efforts in the STEM fields.
WashingtonExec: Is there a particular program, age group or socio-economic background that you personally enjoy engaging with in terms of STEM?
Stacy Schwartz: Since you asked – I did participate in the last couple of years in a mentoring program focused on working with girls who are interested in technology. While clearly there are many different groups and ages that require more exposure to STEM, I think it is a well-established fact that in many demographics, women are underrepresented in the STEM field. Having been exposed to young women who are either considering entering a STEM field, or were about to, I find that there is a general need for confidence building and greater exposure that may be required. With that in mind, I felt it was a very rewarding experience to engage with young women interested in entering a STEM field.
“You have to influence a young mind at a rather early stage and have that person understand what the practical application is. I can speak to that personally, because I’m regularly asked by my daughter, ‘Will I use this math application in my real life because I don’t really enjoy math?’ “
WashingtonExec: What do you think is the most pressing issue regarding STEM education in America?
Stacy Schwartz: I’m think there are many dimensions to that question. In some instances it is just access at an early age to the practical applications of a STEM education. You have to influence a young mind at a rather early stage and have that person understand what the practical application is. I can speak to that personally, because I’m regularly asked by my daughter, “Will I use this math application in my real life because I don’t really enjoy math?”
Rather than textbook learning, I think if you can expose what’s “cool” about some of these subject areas – and how they relate to “real life” — you’ll garner a lot more interest. I believe that as students move through the early years of they education they figure out what interesting to them and why a given subject “matters”, but that’s not also so clear at the outset. If we can demonstrate that relevance at an early age and influence their thinking about what is practical about math,, what is cool about science,, what technology can make possible… I think that would really help.
WashingtonExec: What is your market outlook for 2014?
Stacy Schwartz: At AT&T Government Solutions, an area of keen focus is mobilizing federal workers, whether it’s from a teleworking perspective or just going out in the field and having the ability to do your role in supporting the mission in your agency. That really is what I think is the future – unfettered mobility – and it’s something we are intently focused on at AT&T Government Solutions . In a lot of government agencies, you will see that they are outfitting both their structures and their workforce to be mobile.
I also see continued growth in the evolution of cloud, less capital expenditure and a lot more focus on virtualizing and using cloud as a service. We are seeing a lot of momentum on those fronts. Even in a period of time where there is a lot of restraint and concern about budget pressures, I think technology can enable a progression forward while simultaneously creating efficiencies.
“AT&T Government Solutions is a $4.3 billion business and, while our network is massive, we are not just a ‘networking company.’”
WashingtonExec: What is something most people don’t know about AT&T Government Solutions?
Stacy Schwartz: I think we’ve been a little modest and people don’t always recognize the size and scale of our business. AT&T Government Solutions is a $4.3 billion business and, while our network is massive, we are not just a ‘networking company.’ We provide the data networks that support a lot of the federal government, but we also support large mobility applications, empowering the mobile workforce. We support professional services, provide security services, cloud services, and more.
We have 4,000 employees – all focused on government customers. We have over 200 federal customers. All of those things are probably little known facts that are different from the average consumer’s perception of the AT&T brand.
“If you have done your best then that is all anybody can ask of you and all you can ask of yourself. If you are not doing your best then that is where you have room to change and improve.”
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite app or favorite gadget either personally or professionally?
Stacy Schwartz: I’m sure I will sound like a big cliché, but I love my iPad. I love the ability to listen to music at home playing wirelessly from the iPad through home speakers. It’s a great thing to have your music“follow you around.”.
From a professional standpoint, not having to carry around a big laptop all day and being able to be completely mobile.You don’t merely have some minimal capabilities on a tablet, you can pretty much take your desktop with you virtually. At AT&T, we have enabled our entire client-facing team with tablets to be able to be with their clients and able to work remotely.
WashingtonExec: What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
Stacy Schwartz: I would have to say, “Do your very best.” I know that sounds very simple but it’s sometimes hard to exercise. That is what I ask of my children every day. I ask them if they have done their very best. If you have done that then that is all anybody can ask of you and all you can ask of yourself. If you are not doing your best then that is where you have room to change and improve.