AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Q & A:  Teresa Taylor
A conversation with Teresa Taylor, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Denver-based Qwest
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Sunday, September 24, 2006

Q:  What are some of the challenges that you have faced from a human resources standpoint during Qwest's recovery, in which the company has both cut its workforce and hired new employees?

A:  The biggest challenge really is keeping our employees focused on our customers rather than internal issues.  The way that we do that is remove the internal issues so they really are not bothered or stressed over things that are happening inside the company but truly can put all their time toward external concerns - our customers.

Q:  How difficult was it to lead the contract negotiations last summer with the Communications Workers of America, a union that represented 25,000 Qwest workers at the time?

A:  A very difficult situation in that CWA had not had the opportunity to go to what we call full negotiations for a number of years because there were extensions in place, both with (former CEO) Joe Nacchio, as well as when (current CEO Dick (Notebaert) came on board.  They obviously felt like they had a lot to talk about because there were a number of years where they helped the company tremendously -- they took wage freezes, they did not ask for pension increases and the normal things that they would've done.  They now felt it was their time to talk.  We went to what we call full bargaining -- full negotiations.  My approach, being that I ... actually came from the operating side of the company, was to really approach the CWA like a customer.  I had just come from an organization (where) that's what I did.  I dealt with our largest customers.

Q:  What were some of the key issues during the negotiations?

A:  There's always two topics that are up for discussion -- wages and health care.  And health care was the most contentious point to negotiate because that's where a lot of the cost is on the company side and obviously could be to an employee too.  We also addressed what we call work rules and how we do business.  One in particular was bringing jobs back into the company.  We had a number of jobs that had been outsourced in the U.S.  But we had come to an agreement with the union, at a certain wage scale, to bring those positions back into the company.  So we added close to 2,500 union jobs to the company, from January 2005 to now.

Q:  How have you been able to work your way up the corporate ladder to become the highest-ranking female executive at Qwest (along with executive vice president Paula Kruger)?

A:  No matter what job I've been in, which division I'm running or what level I'm at, I have really focused on treating people the way I want to be treated and treating people the same.  If you did ask people in this company do I act the same today as I did 15 years ago, they would say yes.  I am very respectful of everybody no matter what level I'm at and what job I'm doing.  I deliver.  I set a goal for myself and my team and I deliver.

Q:  As the leader of the Qwest Foundation, why did you shift the group's focus to education?

A:  From a personal experience, education has been the cornerstone of my personal life as well as my family's.  Running the clock way back, my grandmother was a schoolteacher in the rural part of Wisconsin in a one-room schoolhouse.  I put myself through college.

Q:  What were some of the jobs you held to pay your way through college?

A:  I did everything from waitressing (to running) two summer camps for kids.  I also worked as a receptionist.  Multiple jobs at one time.

Q:  How has the culture at Qwest changed since Richard Notebaert replaced Nacchio in June 2002?

A:  It's really that people are proud to work here.  There was a time when people did not want to wear a shirt that said Qwest on it.  It's completely different now.  They show their badge proudly.  It's a world of difference.

Q:  Who are your heroes?

A:  My family -- my mother and my grandmother were obviously inspirational and taught me that I could do it.  I was the first person in my family to go to college.

Edited for space and clarity from an interview by staff writer Andy Vuong.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_4384439