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Connecting the Future
It used to be that when you talked about telecommunications, you meant the telephone. But telecom has expanded to include such devices as interactive TV, streaming services, VoIP, the cloud, tablets, internet, smartphones, wrist watches that tell you how many stairs you climbed or miles you walked - basically the entire internet and everything connected to it.
In 2018 a new era of connectivity is on the horizon as telecom companies embark on the 5G rollout.
According to Deloitte in its 2018 Telecommunications Industry Outlook, “while the rollout of 5G will be a multiyear journey, the foundations will begin in 2018. One of the most anticipated mobile technology platforms, 5G will be the connective tissue for the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles and mobile media, just to name a few.”
What does this mean for telecom techies? More opportunities to connect to a clear future in the industry.
The six professionals profiled in this feature have made clear connections in telecom, immersing themselves within it. They talk telecom, sharing their key roles at their respective companies, their introduction to the industry and their career progress as they connect the future.
Arancibia’s Career at Viasat Soars
Felipe Arancibia is an aircraft integration engineer at Viasat. While aviation was his initial career focus, having earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, it was the opportunity he had to oversee Virgin America Airline’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system while working as an aircraft mechanic that helped him decide on a career in telecommunications and on Viasat as an employer.
“Virgin America partnered with Viasat and began introducing a faster, satellite-based antenna system, which was revolutionary,” Arancibia remembers.
Viasat was also bringing new technology concepts to the marketplace, including antenna technology, which Arancibia knew would change in-flight connectivity (IFC). “Because of my background and involvement with IFE and IFC at Virgin America, I was privileged to have been a part of those projects.”
In the summer of 2015, he worked with people from Viasat who were involved with the antenna installations, especially during their certification phases.
“The level of teamwork was a cornerstone experience that drove my interest in working with the company,” notes Arancibia, who came aboard Viasat in May 2018.
Viasat is a global provider of internet and Wi-Fi services, via its satellite network, for consumer, business, aviation, maritime, government and military applications. The company is based in Carlsbad, CA.
Arancibia joined Viasat’s aircraft integration engineering team, which provides technical guidance and resolution to airline customers across the different programs that are undergoing certification installations of Viasat’s IFC systems.
“I currently support a number of U.S. and overseas airline carriers, and engineer their IFC systems,” he specifies.
Arancibia says he’d like to grow his career to where he could be a key member of a team shaping the future of in-flight communications. “IFE is still evolving, from movies and games in the seatback to ordering food and drinks in the seatbacks to connectivity in the cabin to adding more new productivity capabilities in both the cabin and the cockpit,” he explains.
Viasat offers training, education and learning on an on-going basis. Movement and growth within the company are encouraged. “I’m surrounded by many influencers at Viasat who started as engineers and now run our core businesses,” Arancibia explains.
He further points out that Viasat encourages its team members to challenge the everyday, and rewards them for thinking outside the box and questioning things to find the next big communications solution.
“We’re problem-solvers. We’re big thinkers and market disruptors. Viasat wants team members who live that philosophy,” Arancibia adds.
Find general information about the company at viasat.com and career postings at viasat.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.
Quinonez’s Creativity Comes to the Fore at Sprint
Javier Quinonez first came on board at Sprint in 2016 as a brand intern while working on his bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance.
“I knew this was a place [where] I could dream big,” he remembers.
Indeed, those dreams have led Quinonez to becoming a creative manager at Sprint, which is headquartered in Overland Park, KS, and provides wireless and internet services to its customers.
“I get to work on a lot of cool stuff, from influencer marketing strategies to advertising campaigns. Every day is a different day (or night sometimes),” he says.
He explains further: “I’m a Millennial, Latino and a heavy social media user. One day I was driving and realized Sprint could connect with people, especially Millennials, in ways they could relate to.”
His realization was that Sprint could offer its customers more than just selfies and dance moves - something that the company’s competitors were already offering. He pitched his idea up the corporate ladder until it reached Sprint’s CEO. It resonated.
As a result, he says, “we created a campaign that was able to connect not only with our customers, Millennials, Generation Zs, and partners across the company, but also with different cultures and languages.”
Quinonez’s initial brainstorm became #LiveUnlimited, a highly successful campaign in social media and influence marketing. In fact, Quinonez proudly adds that, in August 2017, Forbes magazine named the campaign the Best Influencer Marketing Campaign of 2017.
He says he still has the chance to create influencer strategies, think of ideas for new television commercials, and think of new ways that can move the company forward.
“That’s why I’m willing to put in the work because I love what I do. I love the people who work with me, and I love the company I do it for,” he concludes.
Visit sprint.com for more information about the company and careers.sprint.com to learn about open positions. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Escobar Engineers Success at CommScope
Before he had his first interview with Hickory, NC-based CommScope, Luis M. Suarez Escobar researched the multinational company that provides network infrastructure products to its customers and its impact on the telecom industry.
“The fact that CommScope has achieved numerous communications infrastructure upgrades across the world to enable and improve wireless coverage and capacity is one of the reasons I decided to consider CommScope as my employer,” recalls Escobar, who holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
During an interview with a CommScope manager, he learned about CommScope’s two-year rotational engineering development (RED) program, which attracts top talent and prepares them for successful contributions to the company.
Escobar was told he would have three eight-month-long rotational assignments, and he’d be involved in the design and implementation of new processes, engineering functions and processes that significantly drive business productivity and profitability in the company. He was hired into the RED program in August 2017 as an engineer 1. He recently completed his first rotational assignment.
“I spent a typical workday using test equipment such as network analyzers, spectrum analyzers and power meters to calibrate and test performance or throughput of different direct attached storage (DAS) hardware,” Escobar explains.
“Replacing end-of-life parts and getting comparable results with new parts is another of my daily work activities. I also perform S-parameter simulation with Microwave Office, adding transmission lines and parasitic parameters to confirm that replacements are well-matched.”
Escobar has now begun his second rotational assignment. “Once I complete my three rotational assignments, I will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at CommScope that meet my career goals and for which I’m qualified. After that I can continue to escalate over time into higher engineering level positions, such as senior engineer and engineer principal.”
He believes he could move into a managerial tract after he’s reached a senior engineering level.
“CommScope offers online courses through our CommScope Infrastructure Academy and Global LearnCenter, which we can take at no cost to develop our business and leadership skills,” he explains.
Escobar has taken some of those classes, which, combined with having had the RED program experience with its exposure to different product lines, could be valuable for his future growth at the company.
For more information about CommScope, log onto commscope.com and jobs.commscope.com to find postings of open positions. Commect on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube.
Verizon’s Valle Has Project Management Responsibilities
Arleny Valle is a level III network engineer at Verizon. Her day-to-day responsibilities include initiating, planning and executing projects that optimize and further improve Verizon’s network. She manages and guides Verizon’s cross-functional teams through all phases of their deployment, which helps the company achieve its goals and milestones.
“Day-to-day duties include tracking project progress and performance, identifying gaps and adjusting plans,” Valle says.
“I’ve had the opportunity to engage with stakeholders and leadership to ensure the project’s objectives are met by analyzing and interpreting data, and making informed recommendations for future courses of action.”
She was initially hired into the company through its leadership development program, where she had the opportunity to change job locations and roles every year for the first three years. She began as a level I network engineer on the New York Metro (NYM) radio frequency (RF) traffic team.
“I was the lead traffic engineer for solution identification in NYM, supported seasonal traffic shifts in the network, and made sure our market was prepared for new and unexpected events,” she details.
When Valle was promoted to engineer II, she joined the technology transformation team in Verizon’s network solutions organization. She was exposed to Agile, a project-management tool, and DevSecOps, a tool to automate core security tasks.
“We created and launched a collaboration tool for network engineers nationwide to help foster an environment and a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing across Verizon,” Valle specifies.
Her next promotion was to her present position as a level III network engineer on the New York Metro implementation team.
However, Valle’s relationship with New York, NY-headquartered Verizon began much earlier than her career trajectory indicates. While she was still an undergraduate studying for her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and her engineer-in-training (EIT) professional designation, she was the recipient of a Verizon STEM scholarship. She networked with other scholars and with Verizon leadership.
“I would go to networking events equipped with my resume and was eventually encouraged to apply for a job. A few months later I received a call to go in for an interview,” Valle recalls.
She was hired as an intern that summer. “I interned with Verizon for two summers prior to being offered a full-time position in their leadership development program,” she reveals.
As part of the leadership development program, Valle participated in two weekly training sessions a year, taking courses that ranged from honing presentation skills to business acumen.
Upon completing the program, Valle moved into the managerial track in July 2018, becoming a supervisor for Verizon’s network repair bureau. She adds that all Verizon employees have the opportunity to apply and move from a technical track to a managerial track (and vice versa).
Valle is a member of two employee resource groups at Verizon: the Hispanic Support Organization (HSO) and the Women’s Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE). She plans to begin working on a master’s degree in 2019, as well.
Information about Verizon can be found at verizon.com and job listings are posted at verizon.com/about/careers. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
Lopez Researches & Develops Customer Relationships at CenturyLink
While working on his bachelor’s degree in business administration, Zenas M. Lopez, who is an account manager in CenturyLink’s Kansas City, MO venue, minored in theater performance.
“I added the theater minor to improve my communication and public speaking skills,” Lopez explains. A year later, in 2016, he earned an MBA.
A friend told Lopez about CenturyLink. The company, headquartered in Monroe, LA, provides high-speed internet, telephone and TV services to residential, business and government customers.
“I’ve always had a passion for technology,” shares Lopez, who joined CenturyLink in January 2018. “The opportunity that CenturyLink provided merged both business and technology for me.”
His day is normally spent researching market trends and companies, conducting meetings and looking for new customers. In the future, Lopez hopes to move up the ranks to the highest position he can reach.
“The opportunity that CenturyLink provides can lead to many different options,” he notes, adding, “I’ve met people who started in sales who are now heads of marketing, and people who were in operations who are now leading sales teams.”
In fact, CenturyLink encourages its associates to explore leadership opportunities within the organization. “The company offers an array of leadership development programs for associates throughout all levels of our careers at CenturyLink,” he says.
When Lopez came on board at CenturyLink, he went through the College Connect Program, which he describes as an intensive, three-month program on telecom, business, sales and networking.
“After the first phase of the program, I was placed in the Kansas City market where I’ve been mentored, and I developed relationships with other employees. They have provided me with insight into the market and how to be successful in this market,” he elaborates.
The telecom industry is no longer just phone lines, Lopez says. Today it’s a different beast. At CenturyLink, for example, “we work with a wide range of technologies ranging from phone lines to our global security network and from our international fiber backbone to cloud services.”
Additional information about the company is available at centurylink.com. Open positions are posted at jobs.centurylink.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Windstream’s Dominguez Supervises & Coaches Residential Sales Staff
With a degree in business administration from a university in Ecuador, Lorena Dominguez came to the U.S. She chose to begin a career in telecom because the industry is indispensable to everyone.
“Can you live without the internet? Can you live without a phone?” she asks rhetorically.
“I figured this fast-paced industry could give me a chance to learn and grow my interests in technology and consumer relations.”
Little Rock, AR-based Windstream - a provider of cloud-optimized network and communications solutions, as well as high-speed internet, digital TV and phone service - hired Dominguez, after a referral and a personal interview, in January 2000. She started as a front line customer care representative.
“Windstream has a culture of giving employees the opportunity to grow their skill set and heighten their potential,” says Dominguez, who was drawn to the company because of the career opportunities it offered. “The company appreciates hard work and rewards excellent performance within its workforce.”
Her initial position was followed by a role as a lead for customer escalations, where she was the first contact for problem resolutions, then a trainer who trained new hires and existing employees in all areas of the business, and then as a coach monitor who scored and coached agents for performance improvement on a variety of calls.
After that Dominguez was promoted into her present position as residential inside sales supervisor. “I’ve been able to train, be a lead for customer escalations, coach and monitor agents, and I currently supervise a group of residential inside sales representatives,” she details.
In this role she develops sales employees, and handles calls and technical issues to provide the best service to calls that come into Windstream from customers.
“I’m responsible for continuous training, coaching and monitoring to ensure the sales representatives have the right tools to give great customer service and to excel in their current sales position. I’m also responsible for their payroll, schedule adherence and many other call center matrixes.”
On a typical day, Dominguez reviews employees’ sales performance and call statistics from the previous day, and based on those achievements, and with the employees’ input, she sets goals for each employee to improve his or her daily performance.
She also runs group promotions to keep the group motivated so they exceed sales expectations, and coaches three to four employees to exceed quality and sales expectations in sessions that typically last 30 minutes. “Overall, my role is to drive performance from each team member,” she concludes.
A subsequent promotion for Dominguez might be to a position as a floor manager or as an individual contributor for another area of the business, including marketing, accounting and human resources.
“Windstream offers employees a variety of training program through our Windstream University (online classes), classroom training on the new technology that’s available to customers, and weekly updates about changes for the entire company,” she elaborates.
She adds that the company offers a great educational assistance program for full-time employees, allowing them to attend a college or university of their choice to obtain a degree in a telecom-related field. Windstream offers financial assistance to help fund part of the tuition.
Dominguez is a member of Windstream’s Culture Crew, which focuses on employee recognition, building bridges among departments and maintaining an “awesome work environment for every employee.”
Focus groups about improving the company are often held with other employees and with higher management, as well.
Learn more about Windstream at windstream.com and about open positions at careers.windstream.com. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Glassdoor and Instagram.
Key Telecom Developments Yield Opportunity
In Deloitte’s 2018 Telecommunications Industry Outlook, Craig Wigginton, global telecommunications sector leader, details several key developments in the industry.
1. For instance, 5G will begin its rollout in 2018. “One of the most anticipated mobile technology platforms, 5G will be the connective tissue for the Internet of Things (Iota), autonomous vehicles, and mobile media, just to name a few,” according to the report, www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/telecommunications-industry-outlook.html.
2. Associated with this rollout will be the emergence of small-cell densification. For years, carriers have utilized “small cells” to help fill coverage gaps between large macro-site cellular towers that serve sizable geographic areas.
“As their name implies, these small cells have traditionally been scaled-down versions of large towers’ capabilities, augmenting coverage where towers couldn’t reach. With 5G, small cells become a more standard element of the radio access network. They no longer just fill gaps - they are essential to enabling 5G, particularly in densely populated areas,” says Wigginton.
3. Another noteworthy development is the emerging category of autonomous vehicles, which has ties to telecom. While autonomous cars have been in the testing and development stages for several years, they’re gaining popularity.
“According to Deloitte’s GMCS, the number of consumers interested in renting or hiring an autonomous vehicle increased by nearly 15% in just the last year alone. Ubiquitous next-generation wireless networks (for example, 5G) will be critical to the eventual mass-market adoption of autonomous vehicles,” notes Wigginton.
Yet another hot topic for tech-hungry consumers is what the smartphone’s future will hold now that the external form factor of most devices has stabilized. According to Deloitte Predictions, www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/tmt-predictions.html, 2018 will be a year of “invisible innovation.”
“This means that progress will be made to functions within the software and/or internal hardware, including AR/VR1 and artificial intelligence/machine learning - delivering, for example, better route recommendations, more realistic augmented reality and so on,” explains Wigginton.
4. Better and faster chips, increases in the number, capability and sensitivity of sensors, and infrared cameras are other developments to watch in 2018.
“With these advances, we expect overall U.S. smartphone penetration to approach 90%, with much of the growth driven by older generations (ages 45 to 74),” says Wigginton.
In fact, he points out that according to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey: U.S. Edition (GMCS), www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/global-mobile-consumer-survey-us-edition.html, over the last three years, the compound annual growth rate for smartphones among those age 45 and older were more than five times that of 18- to 24-year-olds (7.8% versus 1.%)
“[It’s] a trend we expect to continue in 2018,” he adds.
5. Finally, from a regulatory standpoint, 2018 is going to be an important year for the topic of net neutrality.
“In late 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed a previous net neutrality order. State and local governments likely will continue to challenge the FCC’s position on net neutrality for some time. While the ultimate outcome is unknown, this issue will be a key focus for the entire telecom industry throughout 2018,” concludes Wigginton.
What do these this mean for telecom techies? These developments will yield ever more career opportunities for telecom companies and professionals alike.
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