AT&T's Influential Women Series - Marian Croak

WITI News Staff

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Marian Croak

At every level, women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers face barriers. Historical trends have seamlessly transitioned into current trends with the number of women entering STEM fields being far too low. And should a woman be brave enough to follow her STEM dreams, she is still met with the expectant pressure of choosing between work and family - because successful women can't have both. So the question remains - how can female leaders in STEM help eliminate these barriers for future generations? Marian Croak, AT&T Senior Vice President Applications and Infrastructure, believes mentorship is the key.

Show others how to lead, rather than telling them.

Marian is a pioneering woman in the field of technology who has continuously defied the odds and encouraged others to do the same. When Marian began her career in tech, she didn't consider the obstacles associated with being a woman - she simply followed her passion. "I'm not a vocal person. I'm quiet, self-reflective and introspective in my thinking; I like to invent. So essentially, I'm the opposite of that old axiom of what a woman needs to succeed in this business," Marian said explaining her personality. However, in spite of her introverted nature, Marian holds 118 patents, making her the highest female patent holder at AT&T. She has dedicated her patents and nearly 30-year career to her vision of making voice communications possible over the Internet.

Find a mentor, be a mentor.

Amid all of her accomplishments, Marian is most proud of the time she has spent as an example and teacher in the industry. She believes in the power of mentorship because her path to success has been rich with support from family and colleagues. As a child, her father supported her ambitious nature by encouraging her to pursue her love of science in creative ways, like building a chemistry lab in their home. The support continued into her adult life when Marian landed her first job out of graduate school at AT&T's Bell Laboratories. Through the support of her colleagues during the early years of her career, Marian found her niche in the tech community. Today, Marian has given back by serving as a mentor to numerous employees in AT&T Labs and as an executive sponsor for several STEM-related organizations.

Do what you love, so you can enjoy even the most tiresome moments.

Marian freely admits that her career has been hard work but said it's worth it if her work makes a difference. "[I would work] the regular workday, late nights at the Labs, drafting five or six patents during 'free time' on the weekends. I loved all of it, though, and I never felt I had to give up raising my family to chase my dreams," said Marian.

Continue to climb to the top, but don't forget to make friends along the way.

Today, Marian manages more than 2,000 world class engineers and computer scientists, and she is responsible for more than 500 programs impacting AT&T's enterprise and consumer wireline and mobility services. In this role, she is constantly inventing innovative ways to simplify communications. As a result, she currently has 100 new patents under review by the U.S. Patent Office.

Women like Marian are an inspiration to us all. They remind us that the road to success may be filled with obstacles, but if we support one another along the journey, we can reach the top together.