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Nicki Palmer, Chief Network Officer of Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) subsidiary Verizon Wireless, is an engineer, a mother of three, a breast cancer survivor and a staunch believer that more girls need to be involved in tech.
And that's exactly why Alpha Rising took a road trip to Verizon's network operations center in New Jersey to spend time with her.
"We can see every end point of our wireless network from here," she says.
No joke. It is like being at NASA's mission control.
From breaking news to a list of which cell towers are down, Palmer can see it all from here. And since she's responsible for everything from planning to engineering to overseeing the design and deployment of the company's upcoming 5G network, she needs to.
But she credits her dad for where she is today. He was an engineer and her encouraged her to be one too. And at a time when not many women made it through college engineering programs, she gradated from Penn State with a degree in engineering.
And while she got her start at Bell Atlantic back in 1990, she has been with Verizon for 27 years, CNO since 2013.
But all these years later, "there are times and when we meet with suppliers...that I'm still the only technical female in the room," she says. "It's changing - but it is changing much too slowly."
"Of the 9 million tech jobs available, women are expected to fill very few of them," she added.
So we have to do a better job of explaining technology and engineering jobs to our young girls, she says. Because it's more than just erecting bridges and buildings, "there is science and technology all around us every single day," she says.
It's just necessary to take stock of al that goes into the creation of a sleek product.
"You love this phone?" she says. "Guess what: ceramic engineering makes the screen...materials science...electrical engineering make sure what's in side works."
Not to mention that fact that young girls need to be reminded that technology is helping to do good in the world.
And technology and engineering jobs are lucrative, Palmer says. "And that's a good thing for women," she says.
Especially because we are trying to close the gender investing gap.
- We recently spoke with Wall Street legend Sallie Krawcheck about this exact issue.
And while Verizon reported earnings last week that met Wall Street earnings expectations and showed some improvements in its wireless business, Palmer knows there is more to this life than pleasing the analysts.
Back in 2014, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, that was discovered thanks to a mammogram screening offered at Verizon.
She took a six month leave and is proud to call herself a survivor.
#AlphaRising is proud to know her.
And do you want to guess what her advice is to everyone woman out there?
"Go get yourself checked," she said.
I scheduled my mammogram for next week. When's yours?
We also got an exclusive look at Verizon's brand new 5G testing center.
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