Tammie Boone Cottom – Vice President, Retail Markets-Operations and Technology, Verizon Communications, Woodbury, N.J.
When Tammie Boone Cottom was a child, her mother would never let her hold a grudge against anyone. Whether it was the teacher she didn’t like or the best friend she often fought with, Mom wasn’t having it. “My mom would not allow me to walk away from difficult situations,” says Cottom, who is vice president, retail markets-operations and technology, at Verizon Communications in Woodbury, N.J. “She told me I had to learn to deal with all kinds of people, all the time.”
Her mother’s admonition to “build bridges, not walls” has served Cottom well throughout her 21-year career at Verizon, where she began in 1983 as a customer service representative. “I have always been a strong advocate for team work. I know I could not have gotten where I am without the teams who support me and my contributions to Verizon.” Like cream rising to the top, Cottom rose through the ranks to her current position as vice president, managing a $350 million budget for the company’s technology investments in addition to her other duties.
Known as the “I.T. Lady”—she’s also the only African-American at vice presidential level in that sector of the company—Cottom has grown accustomed to holding her own in a field dominated by men. “[As a woman] you always have to work that much harder and prove yourself that much more,” says the executive who obtained her M.S. in information technology from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. Despite the challenges, Cottom loves what she does and intends to stay at Verizon until she retires.
She enjoys reading romance novels published by Arabesque, shopping for gifts for her family and friends, and spending time with her children and husband. “My dream would be to take the experiences I’ve gleaned from corporate America and develop leadership training for high school
students to prepare them to be future leaders in America,”