Thursday, August 17, 2006

In Fond Memory ... My Life as a Recruiter at T-Mobile

This week, I am honored to have a former T-Mobile recruiter join us, courtesy of's Blogswap. (Alise, we need to get together for coffee and swap stories!)

Alise Cortez, PhD, is a Founding Partner of Improved Experience, a company focused on providing HR and Recruiting management with easy-to-use business intelligence, critical for building targeted and cost-effective hiring and retention strategies.

Be sure to check out the Improved Experience blog HERE!

IN FOND MEMORY…My Life as a Recruiter at T-Mobile

“T-Mo,” as it is affectionately designated by many employees, is a great place to work. And I can say this with some authority (he he), because I spent about three years recruiting folks to the company from the inside and two more before that through an outside IT consulting shop. Thanks, Dennis, for letting me walk down memory lane.

T-Mobile has come a long way. I remember it as a small but aggressive company when I began in early 1999 supplying technical consultants (many of whom were later converted to full-time employment and are still there!) through Analysts International, or AiC. Back then, it was still VoiceStream Wireless. It was a rockin’ place, and the IT hiring managers I served were busy, fast-moving people who prided themselves in this relatively new “start up” organization as being able to “change the tire on the bus as it rocketed down the highway at least 60 miles per hour.” When I was recruiting and presenting consulting candidates to VoiceStream back then, my AiC colleagues and I made sure they had some “wild, wild West” in them in that they had to be able to change on a dime to pursue a new direction and move fast! No other mode of operation would do.

I was in awe of the way the company literally made things happen. No excuses. Just get it done. Coming from an entrepreneurial family myself, I just couldn’t resist VoiceStream’s insistence to press on in the face of challenge. And press on they did. They kept growing and growing, ever expanding the national footprint of GSM cell service by both acquiring new companies and having a very aggressive sales force bent on delivering the “Get More” philosophy.

By the end of 2000, I was approached by the Corporate Recruiting Manager at the time with something like this, “You’ve placed a lot of folks with us as a vendor—why not come play from the inside? Besides, you already seem to know what the hiring managers need.” The argument made sense and aligned with my career goals, and I joined the corporate recruiting group as a contractor in January 2001 supporting the Corporate IT (COS) group. What a blast! VoiceStream was growing by leaps and bounds. I was still using the phrase when recruiting candidates that when they came on board, they “should be prepared to work without much structure, be ready to change direction at a moment’s notice, and work hard to make great things happen.” Only a rare, few people, who didn’t know much about VoiceStream at the time, would stop me and say, “Oh, that’s enough. Don’t tell me any more. I’m not interested in working at a place like that.”

As time wore on and we got bigger as an organization, we began to have more processes and structure put in place across all departments. In short, we were growing up. While everyone still worked hard and fast, we spoke less of needing the “wild, wild West” mentality and more about incorporating strategic planning abilities and having a complete set of roles assumed among team members (i.e., not all drivers but also those skilled in analysis, etc.).

Then in 2002, two things happened: VoiceStream became T-Mobile and I moved from Seattle to Dallas. Not long after that move, I was asked by the Recruiting Manager to return and recruit specifically for this newly acquired little WiFi group in Richardson originally called MobileStar. Oh, what fun!! We were back in the crazy, fast-paced mode of growing and taking the market by storm. I think the group only had about 40 people when I joined the recruiting efforts in July 2002. By February 2004, when I left for a consulting opportunity at Hewitt, I think the group boasted well over 200 amazing people—in Engineering, IT, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and Customer Service.

And T-Mobile just keeps growing. Just in terms of the WiFi or Hot Spots, I think they offer the service in more than 18,000 locations in 20 countries around the world! Caramba, that’s a lot. And the company has something incredible like 20 million voice and data customers total. It’s mind boggling. I still keep in touch with a lot of fabulous people at T-Mobile, and they tell me that WiFi is no longer a separate part of the company but rather woven into the fold. I still love to drop by the Frisco office for a visit every now and again. It’s great fun to see so many of the people I helped hiring mgrs bring on board over the years (and that they haven’t forgotten me!). They seem so aware of the awe that they are part of—like, wow, look what we’re doing—isn’t it cool??!! T-Mobile, formerly VoiceStream, will always hold a special place in my heart—for all the adventure, for all the fun, and for all the great and talented people.

Alise Cortez,PhD
Founding Partner, ImprovedExperience (website)
Sales Division blog
1-877-344-4300 toll free214-597-6463 (Dallas office)

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