The 2002 AWIB Entrepreneurial Leadership Award Winner - Sandra Clay
Interstate Telecommunications, Inc.
Interstate Telecommunications, Inc., headquartered in Sacramento California, specializes in maintaining, servicing and installing payphones (i.e. coin and courtesy phones).
Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Sandra Clay, formerly Sandra Louie, worked Southwestern Bell and moved to Sacramento California to work at Pacific Bell in the business office. With no college degree, Sandra could not break the glass ceiling. In 1980, the only way to rise above her "women's job" was to apply for a technical position in the "Coin Department". She was the first woman hired in the "Coin Department" when she became a supervisor of technicians. She went through the same training as all the men, including "pole climbing" and despite all the difficulties associated with being the first woman in a male dominated field, was ultimately promoted to manager - the first woman manager in the Coin Department.
In 1985 she took early retirement from Pac Bell to become General Manager for a coin telephone maintenance and installation company and after six years, she took the ultimate risk by opening her own business, Interstate Telecommunications. AT&T and Citizens Utilities became clients right away. A manager from her prior company became her partner and they pooled their resources to get the company up and running. Sandra's company presently has revenues of close of $11 million a year, with 78 full time employees in offices in Georgia, Texas and California.
Sandra's advice to Asian women entrepreneurs is "…be prepared. Seek advice from other business owners and use their experience to your benefit." As a business owner, Sandra states that she feels "empowered" as opposed to feeling powerless with no future when she worked in Corporate America. She believes that the disadvantage of being the CEO of her company is that her "whole life is this business". She wants to succeed not only for herself but also for her employees who are like a family to her.
A mother of a 25 year old daughter and two step sons, Sandra's love for animals has been made her a long time supporter of the Society for Cruelty to Animals and her local animal shelter.
Sandra and her husband live in the Sacramento Area of California.