Mentorships and engagement will be key focuses for the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum (WWLF) during the next two years under the direction of newly elected WWLF President Amanda Cahill. Her passion for promoting the value of mentorship and expanding its role within WWLF is a reflection of the importance mentors have played in her own career trajectory.
Cahill didn’t set out to pursue a career in the wireless industry, but like many people, she said she fell into it. Working for a market research and consulting firm in 2012, Cahill knew that was not something she wanted to pursue long term. A fortuitous interview set up by a headhunter in her network provided an opportunity that propelled Cahill into the telecommunications industry.
Now, after nearly a decade in the industry, Cahill serves as National Director of Business Development for SQUAN, a design-build firm focused on evolving telecommunications infrastructure for both wireline and wireless network operators, developers and related organizations. In her role, she leads business development initiatives, collaborates with multiple departments on proposal delivery and execution, pursues new and manages existing client relationships, and assists in marketing activities to showcase SQUAN’s service offerings across several different media.
Early in her telecommunications industry career, Cahill has also brought her talents to WWLF, which she joined as a member in 2014. Within months of joining, Cahill became involved with membership initiatives for the forum. She served as Co-Director for Membership through the end of 2015, and in 2016 served as Executive Director of Ways & Means, a position which she held until early this year when she was elected President of WWLF.
“Involvement in women’s empowerment and leadership groups has always been important to me,” Cahill said.
As president of the premier organization representing women in the wireless industry, Cahill now looks forward to building on and expanding WWLF’s focus on mentorship and increasing engagement among members. On the eve of International Women’s Day, Cahill sat down with WIA to talk about her goals for WWLF and the role of women in the wireless infrastructure industry.
Why did you decide run for president of WWLF?
My involvement as the Executive Director of Ways & Means positioned me well to step into the role as WWLF President. I knew I would be able to lean on the guidance and knowledge gained through my tenure with WWLF and my commitment to create an environment where all women feel empowered, supported and are given opportunities for growth, leadership and mentorship.
What are your goals for WWLF during your term as president of the organization?
One of the biggest goals during my tenure as President is to expand the mentoring program of WWLF. The power of mentorship is undeniable. I’ve seen firsthand the role mentorship has played in my own career success. The current WWLF Mentorship Program has been gaining traction over the past several years and I see opportunity to expand on the current program to be more inclusive of the full membership base we serve. I would like to create a two-tiered mentorship program that includes a mentorship class for those in the industry with less than five years’ experience and a second class for those who have been in the industry for six or more years. The goal would be to serve both entry-level women in the industry, as well as those women who might have experience greater than the five-year mark but are still looking for support to streamline their professional pursuits, receive guidance through specialized education and obtain advice in achieving goals in career advancement.
In addition to expanding on the mentorship program, increasing the depth and engagement of the WWLF membership base is top of mind. WWLF has been successful at growing the membership base, but there is still room for improvement in creating more opportunities for current members to get engaged and attend networking and educational events.
What programs and opportunities does WWLF provide for women to grow in the industry?
WWLF offers fellowship, mentorship, and education programs to help women in the industry share their expertise, broaden their contacts and advance their career connections and opportunities. WWLF understands the importance of mentoring future generations by the sharing of industry knowledge and expertise and we’ve created programming to address this issue by joining together women who are committed to empowering other women. These programs rely heavily on our ability to provide customized and strategic training, networking opportunities, and provide access to an array of women dedicated to mentoring on a one-on-one basis. We also further drive our education program to provide access to top-notch learning experiences through educational seminars, IMPACT meetings and other regional networking events.
How has COVID-19 impacted WWLF over the past year and what will things look like for WWLF post pandemic?
As we’ve seen with many organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, WWLF had to pivot to keep the commitment to our members and community as we strive to keep women connected. While we’ve been limited because of social distancing practices, we have been able to provide virtual networking and learning opportunities to the membership base. Even though we’ve shifted to this virtual environment, the need for connection and learning opportunities is still front of mind for our members, now more than ever, and we’ve been able to host an even larger array of virtual events to help foster that commitment. We see the need for virtual events continuing even after the pandemic subsides and we plan to still host virtual learning and networking events to help accommodate the members that cannot travel or attend a local in-person event due to time restraints, company policies and travel restrictions.
What are your thoughts on diversity in the wireless industry?
It’s not hard to find research to support how diversity can create better team dynamics, increase innovation and enhance performance. Even though research shows the benefits of creating a gender-diverse workforce, the wireless industry is still male-dominated and women often have to prove themselves to a greater extent in order to succeed. What I’ve seen in my tenure in this industry is that if women are given the opportunity to take on leadership roles they often thrive, allowing senior management to trust that women can do the job. In turn, this helps pave the way for other women to follow suit.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out in the industry?
The best piece of advice I can offer to anyone starting out in the industry is to network and seek mentors. You can never have too many connections in your support system as you move through your career. Try to meet as many people as you can in the industry and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek out someone to mentor you. Your network can be your biggest resource not only to help you advance and grow in your career, but also to help gain professional skills and learn different perspectives as you chart your own course. It’s also important to remember that the road goes both ways when networking and you never know when someone in your network might need something from you as well.
Who are some of the women you’ve looked up to or who have mentored you during your career in the industry?
There have been many mentors along the way as I’ve transitioned through my career. The women I look up to the most all seem to exhibit the same traits: confident, well-spoken, respected, and, most importantly, embody an enthusiasm to help other women rise as they rise.
Amanda Cahill currently serves as President of WWLF. She has been a member since 2014, serving as Co-Director of Membership in 2015 and Executive Director of Ways & Means from 2016 – 2020. Amanda began her career in the wireless industry in 2012. Based in Dallas, Texas, Amanda currently serves as the National Director of Business Development at SQUAN. Previous experience in the telecommunications industry includes Regional Business Development Manager for Flash Technology, Sales Executive for Smartlink, LLC and Marketing & Sales for VERTICOM. Amanda holds a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Central Florida. She is also actively involved in women’s empowerment groups and currently sits on the Mentors & Allies Committee for WiNGS Dallas, as well as a Co-Founder for Bold Women Society.