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"Montana has proven itself. That doesn't surprise me, but I like showing people we have a lot of skilled people that work with me."

− Christy Schilke

OLIVIA VANNI, Missoulian

"When you get work for someone like her, it makes it pleasant. You enjoy going to work," said Shae Bradshaw, assistant manager for the Verizon Wireless store on North Reserve Street.

He speaking about Christy Schilke, Verizon's district manager who oversees its seven retail stores in the state of Montana.

Schilke is "always looking out for you as an individual," he said. "She's really in tune with her employees and always looks for ways to advance their career. She's very, very good at getting the most out of people and helping them to see their potential."

Last year, Schilke was recognized by the company as its top-performing district manager in the region, beating out peers who are responsible for metropolitan areas in Colorado and Utah. Her teams have won awards of their own, too.

"Montana has proven itself. That doesn't surprise me, but I like showing people we have a lot of skilled people that work with me," she said.

Her attitude toward management likely has more than a little to do with the success. Asked for a concise description of her work, Schilke said likes to think that she works for her employees.

"Their success and their opportunities are my opportunities," she said.

It's her task to bring them the skills, knowledge, production information they need to do their jobs.

Nicole Goedel, the store's general manager, said Schilke's both a support system and a resource for new ideas, and encourages her to pursue her own ideas as well.

"She does it in a very supportive and encouraging fashion," Goedel said, in which employees meet their goals and set new ones.

If that hasn't conveyed it already, Schilke loves her work. (The travel doesn't hurt either.)

"There isn't a day that I wake up that I'm not excited to go to work," she said. "I'm very lucky to love my job every day," she said.


Schilke, who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in social work. She started with Verizon as a business account executive in Bozeman, and then worked her way up to data sales consultant, which covered Montana and Idaho. She became a business account executive in Missoula, and helped open a store on the UM campus. She then was hired as a major account manager, and spent three years as a store manager at Verizon's former location at Mount and Reserve streets. Three years after that, she was put in charge of its corporate stores throughout Montana, which account for about 160 employees.


Late last year, Schilke was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer. She's had three craniotomies, the last one in March, and is taking chemotherapy via the pill method.

"Coming back has been one of the better things for me. I'm very close to my team and very proud of them, so being around them throughout this has been important to me, to be open about what I'm going through," she said.

She calls them her work family, and opened up her personal Instagram so they could follow her along. She said both her and the company as a whole have been supportive.

"Cancer is a very scary word, and it's not that it's not scary to me, but as soon as I was told, I was like 'you picked the wrong person. I'm going to fight it,' and I think that's important to show to my team and people around me," she said.

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Entertainment Editor for The Missoulian.