Maggie Wilderotter is the current CEO of Citizen Communications (CZN). Citizen is an industry leader in rural telecommunication services with 2006 revenues of $2B. It offers ILEC services under the Frontier name in the United States. I was introduced to Maggie as one of the most impressive women executives. [Bio]
SM: Let’s start with your background. Where do you come from, and what aspects of your youth do you think gave you the foundation for such an incredible career? MW: I grew up in New Jersey; I am one of four sisters. My father was an executive with AT&T in the Bell system throughout his career. My mom was a stay at home mom until we were in High School, then she became one of the top real estate agents in the state of New Jersey. I had a great childhood. As a family we were brought up, all four of us, to be very focused on education; I was taught that if you earned a college degree you then had freedom and flexibility to actually do whatever you wanted in life. My parents instilled discipline in us at a very early age. We were taught that hard work pays off, with a focus on “if you deliver your personal best, the world is your oyster”. I have had great success in my career which I really believe is based on a childhood where there were no limits placed on what I could accomplish.
I also worked at a very early age. When I was 12 I got my very first job at a candy shop on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, and I worked there until I was 14. When I was in Junior High School I was very civics oriented as well; I sat on the city council. When it came to school, I took electives in typing and stenography – business oriented classes – where I could get a job in an office during High School instead of working in a fast food location or continuing to work in an arcade or a candy shop on the board walk. I wanted to get myself involved in the business setting, and the best way for me to do that, back in the 70’s, was to use secretarial skills to get a part time job in the summer and after school.
I went to Holy Cross College in Worchester Massachusetts. I am still involved with the school today as a member of the board of trustees. I have a great degree, a liberal arts degree, which is a terrific foundation for any high school student thinking about college because liberal arts gives you the opportunity to learn how to think, how to make decisions, to have a variety of background in the arts, sciences, English and math. It gives you context no matter what you decide to do with your career.