Spotlight On: Andrea Brands

26 Nov 2014 | AT&T

Tagged: People, Responsible Use of Technology,

In your day-to-day work, what are you doing to help connect the company with communities and how has this work evolved over the past three years?

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but social media certainly plays a tremendous role in connecting people and communities now. I personally engage in a lot of activity every day on Twitter and LinkedIn. I am always looking for other organizations that I should be following – from safety to youth organizations and government officials – so I am up to speed on the latest developments. That has been by far the biggest change in the past three years.


We’ve also developed some really meaningful relationships with safety organizations and officials on the state and federal levels, and now we we’re better engaged in this ecosystem. It’s a welcome change, and we worked very hard to get here. It’s gratifying to work with others committed to effecting change for the better.

It’s gratifying to work with others committed to effecting change for the better.

As a company internally, we’ve done a great job of breaking through silos, so that we have this campaign operating on all cylinders and are getting the message out in every way we can. It Can Wait was great 3 years ago, but it’s amazing now. For example, employee engagement has come so far. The ideas that come from employees to make the campaign more effective in their communities are extraordinary.

What is your typical day like on the job?

I don’t think there is any typical day because new challenges consistently arise that you can’t foresee. There is always something going on in one of the states or at the federal level. So while there isn’t a typical day for me, I do make sure every day that I review social media and ensure we get the no texting while driving message out through those channels because we know from research the power it has on behavior.

I also field a lot of questions from employees across the company, nonprofits and other corporations looking for information about the It Can Wait no texting while driving movement and how to get engaged. A significant part of my job is putting the right people in touch with one another and making sure, as best we can, that everyone is informed and connected.

The drum beat of activity with It Can Wait is constant. We’re always working to maximize the relationships and programs we have already in play. We’re always thinking ahead and planning for the next quarter and the next year. What can we do to up our game and be more effective? To answer that question, we do our research and talk with safety experts about what more we can do, strategizing for both the short and long term.

Tell us about a recent accomplishment related to environmental and/or social impact that you’re especially proud of?

I always get a charge out of organizations that retweet what I put out. The Illinois Democrats and Triple Pundit recently engaged with me, and that’s significant to me because I know the campaign and our work is being watched. At the same time, they appreciate being acknowledged. It’s a symmetry that works really well. Some of the teens I have worked with on the campaign have started engaging with me and their peers, and it’s gratifying to know we helped make those connections.

Another recent accomplishment I’d like to share isn’t necessarily mine, but is one for the campaign as a whole. In September, I traveled to Washington, DC for the National Organization of Youth Safety’s Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit. We had Reggie Shaw on a panel; he’s an advocate of the campaign, who’s featured in the latest texting while driving documentary for causing a texting while driving crash that killed two scientists. Reggie was on the panel with Joel Feldman, whose daughter, Casey, was killed by a texting driver. I’ve got great respect for Joel and I’ve seen him speak before several times before. He connects in a real, honest way with youth.

After hearing Reggie speak, Joel was overcome with emotion. I think for him it was a real catharsis to hear someone who had caused a crash apologize for what he had done and show genuine remorse. For parents who lose a child in a preventable tragedy, it can be such a huge relief to hear those words and they usually don’t get to. It was an incredible moment, where I saw firsthand that we are having more impact than we know. It’s such a powerful thing when you see these parents who are trying to make sense out of something so senseless.

If you had a time travel machine, where would you go and why?

I would go into the future – as far as I could. If I could take a pill to live forever, I probably would. I want to be here and see what happens! I want to see how our beliefs change, how the world will evolve and who from this lifetime will turn out to be the great visionaries of the future.

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