A 68-year-old engineer who spent 50 years at a company made a career mistake he should have avoided

Kip Turner, 68, joined AT&T shortly after graduating from high school and has worked for the company throughout his 50-year career.

Courtesy of AT&T

Kip Turner, 68, has spent his entire 50-year career with AT&T working as an engineer. Despite his long tenure, he told CNBC Make It that he was often one of the youngest people on his team.

Turner first joined the company as a terminal installer in 1973 when he was 18 years old. He held about eight different roles over the next five decades. “Until probably the last 20 years, I was a kid on almost every crew,” says Turner, who now works as a principal product development engineer near Faulkner County. ,Arkansas.

Being on the younger side, and the flexibility that comes with starting your career, has its advantages. Turner recalls that he made his first in-house move when he was 20 and applied to become a toll technician simply because “no one else knew about it, and no one really wanted to go to this particular small town in central Arkansas.”

Read more: 68-Year-Old Man Spent 50 Years at the Same Company as an Engineer, Even Without a College Degree — and This Is the Only Thing He Regrets

But it can be difficult to manage up to the most senior leaders on a team when you have the least amount of experience.

“I used to work with a lot of assertive older men, and I’m not a very big man, so I never wanted confrontation,” Turner says.

However, Turner says he was able to make meaningful contributions, even as a younger member of his department.

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navel? “Learn your job well,” he says. “Be very confident when you challenge someone, especially someone who is 20 to 30 years older than you and has been doing this job for a long time. [Don’t] Be proud of it, but be confident in your knowledge.”

It’s important to be respectful, too.

“Give someone an example instead of trying to embarrass them,” he says. “I made the mistake of embarrassing people in the past, and it didn’t work at all.”

[Don’t] Be arrogant about it, but be confident in your knowledge.

Kip Turner

AT&T engineer

Turner recalls that he was once on a large project to help protect several telephone facilities against it An earthquake is expected In the 1990s, which would impact their service area in northeast Arkansas. “We were expecting disaster,” he says.

A senior leader asked the team their thoughts on how to approach the project, “and I said, ‘Well, I have a plan if you have any money,'” suggesting that the project leader wasn’t prepared with a budget, “and it kind of embarrassed him,” Turner says.

Turner recalls his comment undermining his solution and being followed by a “controversial meeting.” Tensions rose, exacerbating a stressful situation.

Turner ended up getting his budget, and the team was able to provide different ways of communicating in the event of a utility outage throughout Arkansas. He and this senior leader even became friends in the future.

In the end, trying to embarrass another colleague “wasn’t the right approach,” Turner says. “I figured it out.”

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paying off: A 68-year-old engineer spent 50 years at a company and was always telling his bosses to leave me alone: ​​Let me learn the job.

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