Life at AT&T
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A behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be an AT&T employee.Read more »
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#25 - The Ethical Hacker
Sean Pohl lives on the web. But it’s not the web many of us ever want to frequent. Sean spends time on the “dark web.” This is the area of cyberspace where you’ll find dangerous people – that seek to steal and sell credit card numbers, medical records and sensitive business information for profit.
Sean is a Certified Ethical Hacker – a hacker who uses his online savvy for good.
In this episode of the Life@AT&T podcast Sean explains how ethical hackers help keep our network and our customers a step ahead of cyber criminals.Read more »
Episodes of This Show
Dec 25, 2017
Dec 18, 2017
Rated 1 out of
They need a "you've been outsourced" episode to show how life REALLY is.
Date published: 2016-10-24
Rated 1 out of
Beg to differ
The public image this podcast is trying to portray is nothing like reality. Unrealistic sales quotas and constant reorganizations from product centric to having to sell anything and everything. Typical response is that lots of products means lots of sales opportunities even if the products are ones that people do not want. Forecasts about customer needs are usually wrong so compensation rules change constantly to the latest buzz terms but then back to true market trends months later after missed numbers.
Development offices are like being in a foreign country. People crammed together using collaboration or innovation as the reason or that people just like it that way. Regular layoffs or outsourcing with no benefits; and they let the outsourcing company do the dirty work of replacing them with overseas workers a few months later. When projects fail some ex-employees are brought back as temporary contractors at a fraction of salary with no benefits and cram them into the collaboration zones with H1B visa contractors. Products are piecemealed together with code that no one takes responsibility for because the schedule, not quality, is the dictator. Sales is then asked to sell such products with unrealistic quotas.
Advertised retooling sounds employee centric but not much meat to it. Especially not when told employees are not the most important asset of the company. When layoffs hit, the organization you are in determines your fate and not your knowledge level. Not unusual to see layoffs at the same time they are blocking transfers. Ironically they are quick to move people based on company needs and not the employee desires or qualifications and they call that pivoting. And all this while claiming to be pro american. Even advertised bonus statements are made at same time people are being let go. No wonder the A in AT&T does not stand for American anymore.
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 1 out of
made me laugh
If you love sitting in an open room shoulder to shoulder with coworkers and worrying if you'll be part of the next layoff, you'll love life at at&t.
Everything has become a video except layoff announcements. They even created a video that included someone saying he did not need office supplies anymore because without an assigned spot, he had no place to store them (they do offer a filing cabinet). Other highlights included the "phone booth" you can go into to make personal calls. They claim people like this environment but I've yet to hear that from anyone. Most people think it's a way to save on office space and supplies.
December is a popular month to announce layoffs so plan to say your goodbyes in January. End of year layoffs are related to not meeting end of year numbers which are just the previous years numbers upped by a mystery growth factor that never seems to happen.
January is when employee ratings come out but they don't really matter unless you were one of those fired. 90% are put in the middle category which they now call "meaningful impact". HR says the 90% is only a recommendation but once they say that, it becomes the guideline. They got rid of mid-year reviews because they did not matter either. Your raise is based on this rating and where you rank in some furnished salary band and where you live. The affect is to make everyone with the same job function have the same salary, no matter the contribution.
Company bonuses are given but the pot is based on a green, yellow, red traffic light formula which generates a percentage number. Nobody knows how it works and they don't tell you how they calculate it so they really can make up whatever they want. Categories include such high level things as "free cash flow". Looking at executive compensations in the stock proxy statements, there are a few who could directly impact things like that by taking a pay cut, but needless to say don't.
The bonus is not based on performance, so you get a bonus even if you are being laid off and in many years this is the case. They also have a personal bonus but that pot is set by HR and nobody knows how they generate it either.
Early year is also when the political action committee signup emails come out. Each level tends to forward it saying how important it is for you to join so that the company can successfully lobby for company benefiting legislation. The 2018 notice, for example, talked about how getting rid of net neutrality was a good thing.
The top CEO no longer calls it net neutrality because that would alienate consumers. He now calls it "light-touch regulation". They invited several congressmen to a company meeting to talk about how tax reform would incite growth. Within days of passage, the company announced a companywide bonus but more silently announced layoffs within days of the bonus, and several since. They made the bonus very public but are quiet about layoffs and lack of job creation. Anyone can look at earnings reports to see the rest of the story.
Required yearly training is sent out and each division needs to outdo each other in completion percentage. Artificial due dates are set because if they have some metric to track, they will do it as though it matters. Most of the classes are the same ones you have to take every year. Some organizations were told they would not send out reminders but with threats that it would affect your performance review and "more", if you are late. They also have a program called "leading with distinction" which most people are required to sit through. All the corporate executives give talks that boil down to "cut costs, delight the customer, make more money, and how many sentences you can say with the word AND in it". They also have paid motivation speakers that talk about things like how you should get more sleep (this is not a joke). Making sure you listen to all these talks is also tracked, just because. One year they had a "you be the CEO" in which they told you why your decisions were wrong. Apparently executives didn't have to take those courses because they are allowed to make money losing decisions in real life. They also didn't have to take the required ethics courses given the recent disclosures about paying off insiders for presidential information. They now publish your course evaluation ratings and comments on the courses. Since doing this, more people call the courses useful.
They also publicly like to talk about retraining workers. Online classes, depending on your organization, may be required and might be on your own time. When layoffs come, nobody looks at your potential value to another organization and they are also purging workers so are in no position to pick up people being let go. So most people take classes that benefit their current assignment and nobody is ever retooled.
The entire middle of the year is spent arguing over budgets and when they figure out how bad things are they announce the midyear layoffs. Contractors, usually H1B visa workers, are hired to replace fired workers unless the job itself is outsourced, which seems to be common. They like contractors because they can get rid of them easier and they don't publish how many H1B workers they have. Outsourced employees are often then let go by the outsourcing company only to be replaced by foreign workers. Outsourced workers know to get your resume up to date.
The company wants to virtualize everything and mentions this at every meeting with completion percentage numbers. Schedules slip because it is the same people who have to support existing software and fix the "free" open software they are told to use. Once they actually figure out how to do it which seems doubtful given continual slips, the people who did it will probably be let go.
Company meetings are called town halls and sometimes "open mic" meetings. The latter has a limited audience that they do not record so nobody knows if they tell different organizations different stories. They want you to be able to say what's on your mind but people are afraid of the consequences if they do so. Expect to hear generic questions like "what one thing can we be doing better?"
Their "span and control" term, the ratio of managers to reports, was claimed to be too low so the opportunity for advancement is basically non-existent unless someone dies who has a lot of direct reports that you happen to work for.
The company now has multiple CEOs so this span rule does not apply to people at the top.
At the end of the year they like to talk about how AT&T gives back to the community. They want you to record all your charitable giving at a web site, even if it had nothing to do with AT&T. They also have an online auction. Executives put things in there like "round of golf with me" or "working lunch" and declare the value priceless. It's a way to get to a golf course nobody at the lower levels could ever afford because of the "belt tightening" they tell people is necessary.
Healthcare signup is also at the end of the year and is a high deductible plan. Lately they've tried to steer people into the largest out of pocket category with monetary incentives. Don't plan on keeping your doctor. Oh, did I mention that new employees no longer will get retirement benefits (except for a 401k)?
December is the time for vacation. If a contract has not been signed with a union, people are told they have to back fill those assignments and have to be able to report to an assignment within a day, even if their assignment is out of state. So basically, you cannot plan a vacation. You cannot carryover vacation so people are forced to take it in December. Anyone creating a schedule pretty much knows this so nothing ever is due in December, except layoff announcements.
Date published: 2018-07-10
Rated 5 out of
Great to hear a show like this
It's great to hear a show like this about a company very committed to LGBTQ issues and civil rights. I've been an employee of AT&T for nearly 25 years an am proud of their commitment to our community.
Date published: 2016-07-25