CenturyLink Monroe TechForum Live Open House Bridges Education And Technology Excellence

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“Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.”
            — Confucius, circa 450 BCE

What happens when executive leaders walk their talk about nurturing their employees’ hunger for knowledge? For CenturyLink, this came to life with TechForum LIVE – Monroe, a full day of education-centered events at the new CenturyLink Technology Center of Excellence and Corporate Headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana. Hundreds of CenturyLink team members attended.

October 7, 2015, was a bit different than most days at CenturyLink’s Corporate Campus. Bright and early, OSP led a keynote panel discussion featuring CenturyLink executives Maxine Moreau, EVP, Global Operations & Shared Services; Bill Bradley, SVP and CIO; and Aamir Hussain, EVP and CTO. These leaders shared their vision and technology roadmap, and also took questions from the audience and from employees attending via live video.

Just a few of the questions included:

  • What are the trends you see as most impactful for our industry?
  • We hear a lot in the industry about network transformation. What does this mean to CenturyLink right now?
  • What might this mean in terms of network changes and transformation in the future?
  • What is innovative about the way you are designing and managing your network delivery/platforms/IT services?
  • IDS expects the IoT market to grow 19% worldwide this year alone. What does this mean for CenturyLink and how will this trend help drive revenue for the company?

Following that dynamic opening, CenturyLink brought hands-on learning to life. Members of the Product Development and Technology team presented 10 product and service demonstrations, including Prism TV, Internet of Things, and new and existing CenturyLink business and residential products and services.

More hands-on activities followed when 65+ vendors showcased the latest tools and tactics to meet customer demands across the network. These trusted partners essentially brought the network into the halls of the Technology Center of Excellence that day in Monroe, capturing the attention and curiosity of attendees.

Jeri Wolf, VP, Network Planning, CenturyLink commented on the event. She said, “This was a fun-filled, informative day for our Monroe-area employees. There were so many choices between the educational seminars and the product demonstrations that it was hard to choose. The vendor partners were kept very busy educating our teams on the latest technology, and it was a great opportunity for employees to establish new relationships and broaden their knowledge. From what I could see, everyone who participated really enjoyed the experience.”

Greg Kunz, Director, Network Engineering and Construction, CenturyLink concurred: “The Monroe TechForum provided a unique atmosphere that we often don’t see. Our suppliers felt a true partnership as the CenturyLink Leadership Team not only toured the many exhibits, but also talked firsthand with them at the networking event that evening. For our employees, a focus was placed on educating not just our technical teams, but also our essential support teams that aren’t in the trenches of implementation. Having our entire company understand the latest technology is very powerful for us as we continue our focus on the overall customer experience.”

 It’s no surprise CenturyLink’s leadership team embraced this opportunity to bring hands-on education to its employees. CEO and President Glen F. Post, III leads the company’s transition from a traditional network communications provider to a growing provider of integrated, advanced IP-enabled network, cloud, hosting and IT services. And to do that, Post says, “It will be increasingly important that we are able to attract the best talent in the world.”

Mr. Post may be onto something. According to American practitioner and theorist of adult education, Malcolm Knowles, adult learning uses approaches that are problem-based and collaborative rather than didactic. It also emphasizes more equality between the teacher and learner.*

Knowles identifies 6 principles of adult learning:
1. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed.
2. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences.
3. Adults are goal oriented.
4. Adults are relevancy oriented.
5. Adults are practical.
6. Adult learners like to be respected.

Indeed, Post and his executive team are willing to put their teams first, and to translate these principles into real life with events such as TechForum LIVE.

Hands-On Education

Early on, when the CenturyLink leaders decided to create a one-day, best-in-class educational program, they enrolled the OSP team to help. The OSP team worked with multiple stakeholders across the company to create a dynamic event that included 15 educational seminars, hands-on product and service demos, a leadership panel, and networking opportunities throughout the day. All of these activities were hosted live on CenturyLink’s Corporate Campus, and open to over 2,000 of its Monroe-area employees.

The day’s agenda aligns with other in-market TechForum LIVE events CenturyLink has created and executed for its Global Operations & Shared Services team in partnership with OSP. Creating a sustainable training cadence for her employees has been a mission for Moreau from the time she initiated a virtual technical learning program in 2013 called CenturyLink TechForum. In 2014, she added LIVE events across CenturyLink’s 4 regions to bring this important educational opportunity in-market.

Caring for Educationand Environment

The Corporate Campus was an ideal location for CenturyLink’s TechForum LIVE, showcasing its Technology Center of Excellence, which opened in March 2015. The new facility proudly showcases many outstanding features designed with LEED certification in mind.

Sustainable features throughout the building allow it to perform at a higher efficiency level as well as improve the indoor environmental quality for employees.

  • “Smart Building” system and software allow for total control of the mechanical and electrical systems, lighting, View Dynamic Glass intelligent windows, audio visual, security, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), and generator backup systems.
  • LED lighting is used throughout the building, courtyard, and for all exterior lighting.
  • Tankless point-of-source hot water heating in restrooms and break rooms.
  • Carpet and systems furniture are 100% recyclable.
  • Green roof is a mixture of 28 varieties of slow-growing vegetation that blooms throughout the year.
  • The irrigation system is fed from the bayou, eliminating the need for potable water.
  • The building is located in a mature pecan orchard; therefore, it was a priority for the design to minimize the removal of these mature trees. The 80 trees that were removed were milled locally, yielding 20,000 square feet of lumber from which veneer paneling and flooring as well as solid material for coffee bar counter-tops throughout the facility were produced. The landscape design for the campus included planting a new tree for each tree removed.

The building also incorporates 37,000 square feet of View Dynamic Glass, making it the single largest installation of electrochromic glass in the country. View’s glass leverages nanotechnology and pre-programmed intelligence to tint automatically in response to outside conditions and user preferences, eliminating the need for blinds or shades, as well as providing enhanced occupant experience and improved energy efficiency. Use of electrochromic glazing has been shown to reduce lighting, heating and cooling loads in typical buildings by 20% or more.

CenturyLink set an ambitious goal for the roof design on the project, requesting no roof-mounted mechanical equipment. To accomplish this goal, the design team moved all of the typical rooftop equipment into a separate mechanical building. This equipment includes all back-up generators, chillers, and cooling towers. The result is a pristine roof surface finished with vegetated trays (lower roof) and a white membrane (upper roof). These roof surfaces, which are very visible from the adjacent existing headquarters facility, provide a striking visual appearance and introduce the sustainable features of the 2 materials.

Each floor of the Technology Center has dedicated storage areas for recycling glass, plastic, metal, and paper. Items from these collection points are collected weekly, and a similar recycling program was implemented in the headquarters building.

Tomorrow’s Success Based on Today

TechForum LIVE is a strong example of how companies, large and small, can engage their teams in meaningful education with the help of an experienced educational partner.

The key is to begin with a sound fundamental premise and clear objectives in mind. In this humble editor’s opinion, acting on the quote from Confucius is a pretty good place to start.

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

— Confucius, circa 450 BCE n

*Andragogy is a study of adult learning originated in Europe in the 1950s and pioneered as a theory and model of adult learning from the 1970s
by Malcolm Knowles, an American practitioner and theorist of adult education. He defined andragogy as “the art and science of helping adults learn.” (Zmeyov 1998; Fidishun 2000).

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About Author

Sharon Vollman is Senior Vice President, Editorial Director of ISE magazine. She oversees all editorial processes and staff for ISE magazine, the ISE e-newsletter,www.isemag.com, and leads the educational content development for ISE EXPO and several events. Vollman has created educational partnerships with the major communications and entertainment providers including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Cincinnati Bell. She has covered the telecom industry since 1996, when she joined OSP magazine as editor. Prior to that she worked in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather and CME. Vollman has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/advertising from the University of Iowa.

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