Archived News | Return to News Center

September 29, 2011

CenturyLink VP shares life and professional philosophy with ULM

Odell Riley, vice president of human relations and chief diversity officer at CenturyLink, has been growing right along with the company since he first went to work there in 1980.

Back then, the company had less than 1,000 employees and operated in about seven or eight states. Today, firmly anchored in northeast Louisiana, the company has grown to over 50,000 employees operating in 42 countries, according to Riley.

"It has been a great opportunity, not only to grow as an individual, but also to grow with the organization," said Riley.

Riley, a 1983 graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, was speaking during a brown bag luncheon Tuesday as a featured guest for the "Discover ULM's Excellence" Investiture celebration this week, which will culminate with the formal investiture of Dr. Nick J. Bruno as ULM president on Sunday.

Both of Riley's daughters are also graduates of the university, as is his wife.

CenturyLink, the third largest telecommunications company in the U.S., recently purchased Savvis, a cloud computing company. Earlier this year, it made business headlines with the acquisition of Qwest Communications.

Riley shared some insights from his personal and professional life as a 31-year veteran of the company, including some of the skill sets an employee should bring to the table if they are looking to work for the communications leader.

"We are looking for someone with the drive and commitment to making a difference," he said. "When I graduated from ULM, the universe was still pretty small. Today, we're talking global. The universe is much bigger now than it once was."

Riley said his time at ULM brought him focus and provided a broad understanding of a number of subjects, as well as people he would have never met otherwise.

"Life has a way of evolving. The challenge is to recognize opportunities and adjust as they come your way," Riley said.

Riley left his audience with some final thoughts about his approach to work and life.

"Make every decision as if it is one you'll have to live with forever," he said. "Because most of your decisions are."

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.