"Learning the ladder" – then climbing it. We love highlighting the exceptional contributions of employees all over our company. Recently, I spoke with Ashley Harriott, a rising star at Cox Communications, about her experiences working in field services. Here's what she had to say!
Shanon: Ashley, thanks so much for being here! Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do at Cox?
Ashley: Hi! I am a core technology technician III, so that includes security work on top of our core work, which is internet, phone and digital television. I'm basically going into homes to troubleshoot anything in the field regarding all those products.
S: And where are you located?
A: I'm in the northeast region, in Manchester, Connecticut.
S: What do you love about living there?
A: Well, I have three kids, and we do a lot of fun family things. Because it's summertime, we get to do hikes, and we get to go to the outdoor parks. They have a lot of festivals that they'll do at Bushnell Park. We just saw a parade and a show there on Saturday. My family's from the West Indies, from Jamaica, and we have what they call a “steel band.” And they had the steel band out there playing the calypso music at the parade and we actually got to participate this weekend!
S: Oh, tell us about that!
A: August is when most of the islands gained their independence. So, they dedicate one week of August to all the different cultures in the West Indies that gained their independence in this month. It’s basically a celebration of freedom. You wear costumes. I don't know if you know about Carnival in Rio, but it's like that.
S: How long have you been working at Cox, Ashley?
A: I’ve been with Cox for two years in November. I love it here! Cox has been the most thrilling employment I have had in my entire career.
S: Would you tell us a little bit about what drew you to the work that you do?
A: Prior to being a field technician, I did work in a call center for another cable provider. So I was troubleshooting the products over the phone. I was like, “I can do the software blind, and I'm fixing the problem for people over the phone without touching the product. I could do this in person.”
S: What pushed you to give this career a try?
A: I had a friend who was going to miss her appointment with her Cox tech, so she wanted me to go to her house and wait for them. So, I had to call in to Cox myself and when I spoke to the representative, they were so delighted and full of energy. I was like, “I'm going to go look online and see if Cox is hiring.” I wanted to do field work. I thought that you had to go to school for this type of work, but I learned that they actually put you through a training program.
S: What was the interview like? Were you nervous, being new to this field?
A: I was scared at the interview because I was like, “Oh my gosh, I'm a girly girl. My hair's all big and curly and I have my nails on.” I did not think I was going to get the job. But I got a phone call a week later, and they were like, “Hi, Ashley, I would like to extend the offer.”
S: That’s great! What were your first impressions of the team?
A: The team and leadership here in Connecticut is awesome. They made me feel welcome. I don't ever feel like I'm out there on the job alone. I feel completely safe, and I put safety first. I feel like Cox overall has given me a sense of hope. And I tell everyone all the time, “Oh, Cox is longevity for me. I'm going to be there forever. I’ll definitely retire from Cox.”
S: You mentioned the training for this job. What was that experience like, learning all this new stuff?
A: I knew that part of the job was physical, like the ladder, carrying the tools and learning the tools. I had never touched a drill in my life. I had never worn the boots that I wear or the tool belt that I wear. All of that was brand new. Everybody was like, “How are you going to do this, Ashley?”
S: And how did you?
A: The one thing that I felt would get me through was if I learned the ladder. If I could learn to carry that ladder and put it up with no problem, I could manage. You see, the ladder is challenging because I'm only 5’4” and it's 28 feet, so I had to learn how to balance it on my little body and carry it and place it in different weather conditions – snow, rain, ice, all those different conditions.
S: You alluded to the fact that you were nervous at first because you weren’t sure if you’d fit in, being your authentic self. So what has that been like, showing up to work as the “true Ashley?"
A: It's funny because when customers see me, they're looking at me like, “What does she want to do?” And then when they see me start working and I'm using my tools and I'm moving around and I'm carrying my ladder, they're like, “Oh, she’s got this.” And I'm like, “Yeah. I'm going to carry these tools. I'm going to carry this ladder. You're going to see me. I'm going to be cute. My hair's going to be all nice and cute. My nails are going to be done.”
S: So Ashley, it turns out that Cox Communications’ field operations teams hired more women last year than any other year before. Why do you think that might be, and how do you feel about that?
A: I'm starting to feel that as women, we are more and more empowered to do work like this on the customer facing side. For me personally, I knew it was something I wanted to do because I had done it over the phone and I felt like if my customers could see my face and know how much I care while I'm in their home, they would appreciate their services more. I would add more value to their experience with the company. My customers understand that Cox puts them first and we value them as a customer.
S: Have you personally found opportunities to support other women at work?
A: I am in Cox's Mentor Up program and my mentee is also a woman on the engineering side. So I feel like me being in that program will eventually put me in a position of leadership where I can mentor more. Recently I was asked to participate in a volunteer project at Girls Inc. to talk to teenage girls about my career. I hope more opportunities like that will come down the pipeline for me.
We'd like to thank Ashley for her contributions, and for coming down from the ladder long enough to chat with us!