Phone home: Nevada Union graduate finds her calling as exec at Cricket Wireless
July 4, 2018
When Suzie Nicoletti was growing up in Penn Valley, there were no cell phones. The area code of her Penn Valley home was still 916, and in order to make a call she'd have to remain tethered to the phone by way of a spiral cord.
There's no way Nicoletti could have imagined then that one day her love of math and science would lead her to help develop technology that would allow people to make calls — and then some — from a device they could fit in their pockets.
Living in Atlanta, the Nevada Union graduate now serves as the Assistant Vice President of Technology Operations for Cricket Wireless, a long way from her lengthy bus rides home down Mooney Flat Road.
"I am responsible for technical operations," said Nicoletti, "so basically information technology and the network within Cricket Wireless. Our call centers, retail stores, our web, our backend systems — all of that my organization oversees. Cricket was a standalone company. They have been around for 12 years, and AT&T purchased Cricket in 2014."
Nicoletti said she works out of Cricket headquarters in Atlanta and is largely behind the scenes.
"We have eight different call centers, and if they can't answer a question they bring it to my team. We have people out in the field to help customers in 5,000 retail locations but if a store is having an issue they call my team who can talk them through it."
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Then known as Suzie Miller, Nicoletti's passion for mathematics was fueled by some of her early educators, specifically Jeff Miller at Pleasant Valley School, who encouraged her love for math. After graduating from Nevada Union in 1989, she attended Yuba College before transferring to California State University, Chico, from where she earned her degree in 1995.
Her entire career has been in the tech field, with Nicoletti starting as a software engineer then filling director roles for Verizon and AT&T.
She may be living a significantly more metropolitan life than the one she lived growing up, but Nicoletti said she comes to the Gold Country at least once a year.
"My whole family still lives there," Nicoletti said. "Aunts, uncles … they're all there."
Her family, she said, is close, and she credits them with being some of her earliest teachers. She said her gratitude for them is immeasurable.
Nicoletti acknowledges that being a woman in the tech world has presented its challenges but she's held her head high and relied on her ability to do the talking.
"I think that over the years I have encountered things," she said. "I have little stories; some are bigger and some are subtle. They stem back to (those who) don't expect you to be technical. They assume you don't have the tech expertise that they have."
Her childhood has made for interesting conversation throughout her career, Nicoletti said.
"I am so proud of where I grew up and of the town and of the area. When people ask where I'm from I am really excited (to tell them about it) and they all say, wow that sounds really beautiful."
"It feels like yesterday but it also feels like a million years ago."
Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4231.