NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - As the theme of the 15th-annual Women’s Leadership Summit on Friday was to “Empower Yourself,” a Verizon executive underscored the need to be healthy, both professionally and personally.
“Life is short; incredibly fleeting,” said Leecia Eve, vice president of government affairs for Verizon in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. “We have only one opportunity at life and need to make the most of it we can, in how we choose to live and lead our lives every day.”
Eve made her keynote remarks in front of about 140 women professionals who are members of the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce and involved in its “Women in Business Committee.” Eve was among 14 business professionals who addressed the group during a day of presentations, panels, breakout sessions and plenty of networking.
Eve spoke candidly of her career before joining Verizon in 2013, as she was on a track for a lifetime of high-level public service. Among many high-profile positions, she had served as chief economic advisor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the first woman and the first person of color to hold such a powerful position.
“I loved the power associated with the job, as there were innumerable ways in which I was able to improve lives and strengthen communities across the region,” Eve said. Then, as she was approaching 50 years of age, Eve said, she was given an opportunity to work for Verizon in a senior leadership position.
“The leap was made easier because of my brother, Eric,” she said. “He had worked in the Clinton White House and then joined Verizon. He spoke of the fondness for those of whom he worked with at this company. For me, joining Verizon was an opportunity to play a pivotal role in the region. There are 15,000 employees in New Jersey and Verizon invests billions of dollars in the region. They are terrific, hard-working professionals. Verizon is the only corporation where I could see myself ever working.”
Eve said she enjoys the pace and spirit of Verizon, which is constantly evolving and changing the technology industry. “We are now the disruptor in this business; we are even disrupting ourselves,” she said.
Eve spoke of the 5G network that is to be introduced in the coming year, bringing a level of upload speed that is 30 to 50 times faster than what is offered with 4G. Very soon, a two-hour movie could be downloaded in seconds.
Eve also spoke of the “Internet of Things,” in which it is expected that 20 billion devices will somehow be connected to one another for many purposes.
There is telemedicine, in which a doctor can monitor a patient’s glucose levels from another part of the world. There is “smart cement,” which can track traffic patterns and unsafe driving conditions. There are “smart garbage cans” that can alert the trash company when it is time to come by. And there are many, many ways in which IOT will change our lives that we have yet to fathom.
In this year of technological change, Eve said, every woman in the room is empowered.
“There are too many women around the world who are not empowered,” she said. “They do not have a privileged life like we do here. They can’t fathom being empowered. They are putting their lives at stake and their children’s lives at stake every day and have no choices. I don’t know what you earn, but I believe everyone in this room is empowered, no matter what.”
Eve added, “This is the greatest nation on the Earth and the greatest democracy on the Earth. But we can do better. There are too many smart kids in bad schools. We need men and women to be empowered to collectively work and address the issues that truly matter.
“They need to feel empowered to do so.”