Angie Klein ’01, vice president of marketing for new product innovation at Verizon, emphasized disruption and innovation in her keynote speech at the third annual Undergraduate Women in Business Conference at Nebraska Innovation Campus on February 24. Nearly 300 women attended the event on a snowy morning to hear Klein, who graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with degrees in both business and journalism. She quickly climbed the ladder at Verizon after joining the company in 2001.
Three years in at Verizon, Klein served as part of the team assigned to launch a company television service. They had 10 months to complete the task, or in Klein’s words, “disrupt the industry by finding a hole in the market.” Creating their design for Verizon FiOS TV from scratch, the team refused to imitate anyone else in the industry, delivering video over a 100 percent fiber-optic network offering an alternative to cable and satellite services.
“The next two years of my career I don’t remember much except working the entire time. It was a treadmill set on seven-and-a-half that I never got off,” Klein said. “But by December, we launched and changed the way cable companies thought about business. When I look back now, we disrupted the industry.”
For the next 10 years, Klein changed jobs every 18-24 months within the company. In her newest role, she leads brand and creative strategy for a number of Verizon’s emerging businesses and product solutions. This includes over-the-top video, or delivering TV content through the internet without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite service. It also includes telematics, the transmission of internet data over long distances, and the Internet of Things, or connecting everyday devices to exchange data, like cars or kitchen appliances, via the internet.
“This role is exciting because it’s different than anything I’ve done before. It is about building our identity in the market and how we are presented,” Klein said. “Traditional media and how we have previously gone to market won’t be as effective anymore, so now it’s about being influencers in the industry and engaging with our audiences differently.”
Now residing in New York, Klein lived in Dallas, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. She still calls Battle Creek, Nebraska, home and refers to her small-town upbringing and her time at Nebraska as monumental in shaping her work ethic and attitude.
“The sense of potential was broader growing up in a small town than if I would have grew up in the big city. It defined who I am today,” Klein said. “I had the ability to do a little bit of everything and gained a sense of independence. I thought nothing could hold me back.”
Attending Nebraska was an easy choice for Klein, who quickly got involved on campus. As a member in the first year of the Nebraska Women’s Leadership Network, formerly known as Cather Circle, which promotes growth and education of women to create a nationwide network of female leaders with ties to Nebraska, she received a key opportunity that launched her career.
“I gave a tour to distinguished women alums who came to campus. At the end of it, Celia Swanson from Walmart offered me an internship in Arkansas on the spot,” she said. “That opportunity opened doors for me and I will forever be grateful. All it took was for me to be part of that organization and network just a little bit to have someone recognize me.”
Because of these opportunities, Klein strives to share her experiences. Honored as a Nebraska Alumni Master in 2014, she also served on the CBA Dean’s Young Alumni Advisory Board and feels a sense of accountability to give back, especially to young women.
“When I come back and speak to students here, I remember that someone, like Celia, took the time to do that for me,” she said. “Hearing people speak about their business experiences exposed me to opportunities I would not have had otherwise. Without her taking the time to come back, I probably wouldn’t have the career I do today.”
Senior Linsey Armstrong, an advertising and public relations major with minors in business and leadership, views Klein as a role model. She attended the Undergraduate Women in Business Conference and left inspired.
“I’ve heard Angie speak multiple times throughout college. She does a marvelous job of empowering women to feel confident in themselves and their work,” Armstrong said. “She cares so deeply about her work and sets a strong example for undergraduate students.”
Klein ended the keynote by sharing three rules that defined her success.
“Always play beyond your position. You need to know everything about your own position and master it, but always understand the other areas. The second rule is say yes consistently to new roles and challenges, and the third rule is to give a shit. Saying I’m passionate about the work I do, wouldn’t fully capture what I mean. If you come to work every day and care passionately about what you do, you will deliver and be successful.”