2014 Game Changer: Lisa Mitchell-Kastner

By Kate Everson

Aug. 3, 2014

As a telecommunications company, AT&T Inc. understands the need for speed. Its product has to move as fast as its customers. But it’s not just AT&T’s services that have to be fast — being able to deliver flexible executive education programs that keep up with employees and industry changes is critical to keeping the company ahead of the curve. That’s where AT&T University’s executive director of training, Lisa Mitchell-Kastner, comes into the picture.

In 2013, AT&T’s chairman announced plans to discontinue all landline communication in favor of cloud-based wireless services by 2020. In response, Mitchell-Kastner’s team had to step up their game in leadership development, and did so by condensing the Leading With Distinction program from 17 months to five months, which generated an estimated $4 million in savings.

“The faster we could align our teams on the strategy and educate our workforce on future trends and technologies, the greater impact we would have,” Mitchell-Kastner, 37, said. “We not only found a way to execute faster without sacrificing quality — our executive team and employees have expressed almost entirely positive feedback, and getting everyone aligned faster will help keep us on track to transform the company by 2020.”

But learning had to be accessible, too. When Mitchell-Kastner found that travel restrictions and work-life balance issues prevented 25 percent of general managers from partaking in live training, she launched a virtual program that would take learning to those outside the classroom. Not only did AT&T move closer to being cloud-based, but also, according to the company, it saved $160,000 in travel costs for 32 participants in one session.

For Mitchell-Kastner, 2020’s all-wireless plans loom large in the not-so-distant future. “What I’m doing is simply putting into motion at AT&T University the operations, courses, interventions, and specific” Leading With Distinction modules that the company’s leaders need, she said.

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