Colleagues as AT&T say Theresa Bates is an innovative, solutions-oriented technical leader, focused on talent development, operations and social media. Bates joined the AT&T’s Executive Briefing Center in 2015 as director of the demonstration program for Corporate Briefing Centers, creating and leading a first multicenter C-suite program. She previously served as lead solution architect for big data client solutions at AT&T’s Big Data Center of Excellence, and as chief of staff and lead diversity consultant.

A volunteer and leader in her community, Bates inspired the GED Attainment Scholarship, AT&T Foundation’s first matching scholarship for at-risk youth, as well as AT&T’s Face-to-Face Mentoring Circle Program for LGBT employees. She collaborated on the company’s multifaceted multimedia, social media and thought leader initiative. Bates also provides leadership for key strategic initiatives and, in times of crisis, is a first-communications responder.

Her belief that everyone should “make a positive difference in all you do and pay it forward,” has made Bates a five-time gold recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. She serves in community and national leadership roles for various nonprofits, including Business and Professional Women, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, Women of AT&T, LEAGUE at AT&T and Commissioner, City of Dallas.

“Some of the best advice I was given early in my career – which I still use every day – was to surround myself with diverse people who think differently,” Bates says. She explains that providing an environment where everyone brings their “whole professional self ” to work, and everyone is valued for what they add to the team, allows ideas and innovation to flourish. “When everyone has a seat at the table, she adds, “the possibilities are endless.”

Bates believes she became a leader by being coachable and saying yes to opportunities. “I encourage women to know themselves – know what you want, and then make it happen” she says. “I also advise them to embrace the ‘Carry as You Climb’ philosophy by mentoring and supporting others.”