Lowell McAdam & Allie Kline | 2018 MAKERS Conference
Lowell McAdam, Chief Executive Officer, Verizon, interviewed by Allie Kline, Chief Marketing Officer, Oath, about making effective change in corporations
PRESENTER: Ladies and gentlemen, Allie Kline and Lowell McAdam.
ALLIE KLINE: Good morning. How are you all? Really? How's it going? After all that data? Yes, we are thrilled to be here and I am thrilled to be here with someone I have tremendous respect and admiration for, Lowell McAdam, who is the CEO and chairman of Verizon. So thank you so much for making time with us.
LOWELL MCADAM: It's great to be here. And I have to say Tim had a great idea to do this conference that he's had you know unbelievable support and people like you that are leading it now. And when I look at who's in the audience, wow, it's a great group. And when I look at I'm glad I'm on first because if I had to come in later I'd disappoint you. So I'm glad to be on and we're glad to support this and we'll continue to support it.
ALLIE KLINE: Awesome, well let's get right to it.
LOWELL MCADAM: OK
ALLIE KLINE: OK. So we're going have some serious talk on then we're going to do some fun stuff.
LOWELL MCADAM: OK good.
ALLIE KLINE: OK. So you are the chairman and CEO of you know Fortune 15 company, one of the most successful companies in the entire world. How do you think about and looking at the data that Joanna just presented or the research a lot of these women in here have the ability and influence to go make those issues a CEO issue? What's the counsel you give to us?
LOWELL MCADAM: Well I'll give you an example of this weekend. People ask you know how do I get noticed by the CEO? And I remember when I started out there were Harvard Business Review things about you know make sure you do this and this and this in your career. I went in to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl this weekend and I met with the leaders of the team that brought that network, you know I won't brag about that that'll take too much of our time. But the two biggest leaders of the team on the ground were women. And that's how you get noticed.
We were up triple the volume than we've ever been before. And they took me around and they introduced me to one of their superstars who happened to be born in Romania, educated in Germany, is an immigrant to the US, we work with her to make sure that she's going through all the process. So in that day I saw why immigration's important, why diversity's important. And I think I'd sum it up, Judy Spitz who was our CIO in one of our big business units used to say to me all the time Lowell you'll never win the game if you leave half the team on the bench. And that's sort of the mantra that we've accepted.
ALLIE KLINE: So what is-- so that's you're an evolved man in many ways. How do you get the attention of a CEO that may not have that same default perspective? How do you make it a business imperative or a business issue?
LOWELL MCADAM: You beat them. No I mean seriously I'm a big believer in diversity of thought. And as you bring that whole team to bear you end up with a better strategy, with better execution, and you go out and you win in the marketplace. And I do honestly believe that people that don't make people of color, and diversity, with men and women a front page issue for them in the top of their mind they're aren't going to do as well in the marketplace.
ALLIE KLINE: So you talked about the Super Bowl and the impact of I assume what Nikki's team was doing there. There's two women that I've been really fortunate to work with on your team, Nikki Palmer, who is the chief network officer in charge of all of Verizon's wireless network which is huge, and Chandra McMahon who's your CSO head of all security. What's the impact of having women in those positions that are typically held by men?
LOWELL MCADAM: Look those are two of the most critical positions in our company. And Hans Vestberg, who's our CTO, gave Chandra a very high compliment. When he was the CEO of Ericsson he worked with 154 companies around the world. And he said Chandra is the best CSO he's ever seen. So she has-- when she speaks people listen. And Nikki's the same way. And you know I'm especially proud of folks like Nikki and Marney who's beside herself that she can't be here, she's got the flu. But we identified them early in the career. You know they had the mindset, they had the drive, they delivered the results. And our job was just to help move them into the right positions.
And Magda Yrizarry right here in the front row, Magda is our chief diversity officer. She's invaluable to me because she's in my face. She says Lowell you know we got this position. Here is a list of the candidates, and it's like yeah I got it, OK, let's figure out the right way to move them through the organization and get them you know so they can make a difference. And when they do, boy they sure stick out.
ALLIE KLINE: Yeah. OK let's talk about Me Too.
LOWELL MCADAM: OK.
ALLIE KLINE: What are your thoughts on the movement?
LOWELL MCADAM: So we need the movement but I wish we didn't have the movement. And let me just tell you a quick story, a mom story. So my mom stayed home with me until I was in first grade and then she went back to teaching full time. And she carpooled with another teacher to a school that was about a half hour away because she didn't want to teach where she had three boys, we were all ill mannered, not really, but she boxed our ears a few times, she didn't want to be in the school. So anyway she'd head off to school in the morning, I would go home with a friend, she'd pick me up on the way home, and we'd deliver the other teacher home.
One day I'm in the backseat seat you know wherever you are when you're in first grade years old, and all of a sudden the car lurches forward and she takes off. And I look around and the teacher's husband, who had stuck his head in the window of the car, is lying on the ground. He'd hit his head, those old cars from the 60s, I know many of you are too young for that but they had this big metal pillar between the front and the back door. And she hit the gas, he hit his head, and he's laying out on the ground out. Mom, mom, you just you know to Mr.-- he's out. She says, he put his hand in the wrong place.
And she looked at me and she said Lowell, don't you ever touch a woman without her permission. OK mom, I got it. You know but that story sticks with me. And so we need the movement but we shouldn't have to have the movement. And I think as I look at the big examples that you see between family, between coworkers, between business leaders like me, we have the responsibility to not have to have a movement like this. But you know we'll do it, we'll do it well, we'll make sure to your point about CEOs that don't get the message, they'll get the message if you know if we have this sort of movement.
ALLIE KLINE: Is this something you all talk about at the CEO level?
LOWELL MCADAM: Oh absolutely. I mean we don't have to talk about it anymore to be honest as far as the business goes. When we've had bad actors in Verizon, look you know no matter how good we are on some of these things I always have there's a higher gear we can always do more. But we've had a couple of examples that I can you know somebody had been with us 10 days and made a pass at one of his subordinates that was a woman. Boom, he was out. Diego fired him without any consultation. The person was gone. And unfortunately we've had many examples like that but people know you do that in Verizon you're out.
ALLIE KLINE: That's great. We're going to change the topic a little. And how many of you all this is your first Makers? Wow this is your first Makers? Wow that is amazing. OK so for those of you that have not seen this before Gloria Steinem holds the record. She is here, which is a Maker's Minute. We're going to do a Maker's Man Minute with Lowell and see if you can beat Gloria. No pressure. You're a Fortune 15 CEO. You can do it right? OK.
LOWELL MCADAM: No I've met my match.
ALLIE KLINE: Who's got a phone and a minute timer? Yep you got it? OK great so you tell me when to go.
LOWELL MCADAM: Is a Man Minute longer or shorter?
ALLIE KLINE: A man minute's like seven minutes don't worry so yeah. It's like dog years. Kidding, kidding, kidding. ready? OK. Best word to describe you?
LOWELL MCADAM: Deliberate.
ALLIE KLINE: Beyonce or Taylor Swift?
LOWELL MCADAM: Taylor.
ALLIE KLINE: A female who inspires you?
LOWELL MCADAM: My daughter.
ALLIE KLINE: Toilet seat up or down?
LOWELL MCADAM: Remember the story about my mother? Down.
ALLIE KLINE: Something that makes you hopeful?
LOWELL MCADAM: This movement, this Makers conference.
ALLIE KLINE: Something that pisses you off?
LOWELL MCADAM: People that don't take accountability.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you're afraid of?
LOWELL MCADAM: Washington politicians.
ALLIE KLINE: If you could be a woman for one day who would it be?
LOWELL MCADAM: Boy I'll have to-- I don't know, I don't know.
ALLIE KLINE: You don't know?
LOWELL MCADAM: No.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you wish you did more often?
LOWELL MCADAM: Worked out.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you wish you did less often?
LOWELL MCADAM: Stressed.
ALLIE KLINE: Something you've never tried but would like to do?
LOWELL MCADAM: Safari in Africa.
ALLIE KLINE: OK well I want to ask him one more. So you got 11, she had 16, that's close.
LOWELL MCADAM: There you go.
ALLIE KLINE: Headline you'd most like to see on the cover of the Wall Street Journal tomorrow morning?
LOWELL MCADAM: Verizon stock at 100.
ALLIE KLINE: Two more just because I can't resist, that would be amazing. I would love that. Favorite thing about your job?
LOWELL MCADAM: The variety.
ALLIE KLINE: And what's your biggest vice? This one I just want to know even if yeah--
LOWELL MCADAM: I collect old cars.
ALLIE KLINE: Oh nice, OK. All right last question for you. We have a lot of Makers app partners of which Verizon is one with this one in the audience. Tomorrow many of them will be getting up and making a pledge on how they're going to raise their voice. How will you and Verizon raise your voice going forward?
LOWELL MCADAM: You know Allie I'd say we're very proud of the things that we're doing. We're investing in STEM education for females through a program called WiTNY. We're moving people around the business, we're bringing people in like [? Michaela ?] from outside the country. I have a saying, there's always a higher gear. And in our credo it says our best was good for today, tomorrow we'll do better. And I think that's rather than one thing, it's doing all of those things and figuring out how to do more of it and do it better. And that's our pledge I think.
ALLIE KLINE: Great, thank you so much.
LOWELL MCADAM: Thank you Allie. Good luck. Enjoy the conference
2018 MAKERS Conference
MAKERS amplifies the dialogue around harassment, equal pay and other urgent issues, pushing the women's movement forward. #RAISEYOURVOICE