Last week, Zayo’s own Sandi Mays was honored as a talent champion finalist at the Denver Business Journal’s APEX awards. As one of Zayo’s founders — now responsible for customer experience, strategic marketing and Zayo’s IT solutions — Sandi has long been a champion for diversity at Zayo and in the tech community. Over the course of her career, she and her teams have hired and developed thousands of individuals. She has also made a significant impact on building the tech talent pipeline in Colorado through advocacy and mentorship, which has been recognized by a number of organizations and awards, including the Latina’s First Trailblazer Award and the CWCC’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado.
Nurturing a pipeline of diverse talent doesn’t just mean a financial contribution and a logo at an event. For Zayo, it’s all about meaningful partnerships with community organizations, schools and universities — and about inspiring and supporting the workforce of the future.
To foster that talent within Zayo, Sandi’s Customer Experience & IT team spearheaded the Early Careers Program in August 2017, a development-intensive program for entry-level professionals interested in pursuing a career with Zayo. Those hired for the program receive training, coaching and mentoring for 12 months, as employees take on their work assignments. As the program marked its one-year anniversary, some of its first hires are on a fast-track career path with promotions into managerial positions.
Sandi’s team supports Colorado’s tech talent pipeline through participation in at least three events every quarter. Employees are active volunteers and advocates in the community, hosting tech challenges and hackathons, mentoring high school and university students, and serving in a variety of leadership roles in tech and diversity organizations. The ZAPS (Zayo Achievement Program Scholars) Mentors Program, for example, pairs Zayo mentors with underprivileged students from the University of Colorado’s Engineering School to provide support for students pursuing computer science degrees.
The team also actively leverages Zayo’s Intern program, led by the community and university engagement team. Interns hired into the 10-week summer program participate in job assignments, in-depth training, networking events, projects and hackathons. Consistent with Zayo’s focus on diversity, nearly half of the 2018 interns were women or underrepresented minorities.
Sandi’s commitment to diversity is personal. She remembers how it felt to be the only woman or minority in the boardroom. Now, the likelihood of having her ideas ignored or having to listen to inappropriate comments is no longer an issue. Best of all, she has paved the way for many others, creating a culture of inclusion and inspiring the next generation of leaders.