ISE EXPO 2019 Tech Talks Executive Insights

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Art Nichols
VP of Architecture and Technology
Windstream

Topic: YOUR ROLE
What’s the most challenging thing about your role, and what is the most gratifying? What is the greatest thing you’ve learned thus far, and how do you plan to “move the needle” in your position this year?

Nichols: As is often the case, the most challenging aspect of my role is also perhaps the most gratifying. Having responsibility for tracking and charting the technology course for the company across a wide breadth of disciplines from OSP to cloud requires the role to understand, monitor, and evaluate, a tremendous number of technologies. It’s interesting to me to follow the commonalities and dissimilarities across them (e.g., distribution v/s centralization, multi-tenancy v/s virtualized single tenancy, etc.). It’s also quite challenging to stay abreast of all the latest trends and advancements across optical, security, video, routing/switching, etc. I’ve had to learn to rely far more heavily on, and listen more to, the amazingly talented team by which I’m surrounded. If our team and company are to advance at a pace commensurate with the industry’s velocity, a tremendous level of empowerment and trust is required. Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned is people are capable of far more than either they or I might realize if they’re given the autonomy and empowerment to grow and thrive.

Topic: YOUR IDEAL DAY
Please describe what you like most about your job, and what an ideal (yet realistic) day looks like for you.

Nichols: I love that my role affords me the opportunity to learn constantly, an aspect I view as a key indicator of professional (and personal) satisfaction.

An ideal day for me has a complete absence of status meetings, and affords time to collaborate with and learn from others. Perhaps spending the morning talking to teammates or peers on ideas for how to improve the organization or how we can better serve our customers. Maybe the afternoon would provide an opportunity to recognize individuals for recent accomplishments, and coach someone on how to tackle a difficult challenge differently, and perhaps conclude with a session to learn from a successful individual or company outside of our industry in a way that highlights potential applications for Windstream.

Topic: BEING ALL THINGS TO ALL USERS
A significant challenge for service providers today is the need to simultaneously service consumers and industry verticals, including transportation, high-value manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, Smart Cities, etc. The range of options puts pressure on networks to be all things to all users. What is your advice to other telecom providers about this challenge?

Nichols: As both a rural ILEC focused on broadband expansion and a nationwide CLEC with an industry-leading business product set, Windstream is in a somewhat unique position with regard to serving a diverse customer base. My advice for others in attempting similar scenarios is to first and foremost focus on the end-customer experience. Too often we service providers jump to push the latest network investment or technology into the face of our customers, with little pause to consider how to solve problems they may not even know they have. Vis a vis these network investments, it can be challenging to coalesce multiple business cases that can create an ROI. But lest critical investments never see the light of day, I think it’s important for Engineering teams to educate and evangelize potential applications for the Product and Sales Teams, and to help tie together multiple BU benefits. I would encourage others to really think about their core competencies as well as areas they need to mature, while being very intentional and protective about maintaining focus. It’s so easy to chase after the latest buzz-laden trend from a product standpoint when the right answer may be to focus on being the best in the business at what you already do.

Topic: RURAL CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
What is your greatest pain point delivering higher speeds to underserved and rural communities? What are some solutions?

Nichols: The obvious and well-documented challenge is one of subscriber density or lack thereof making any reasonable ROI difficult. Expanding broadband is a challenge I’m proud to say Windstream has taken head-on, continually looking toward new technologies and techniques to do so cost effectively across broad geographies. Whether it’s through continued leveraging of copper infrastructure with aggressive distributed DSLAM programs and reimagining how we place electronics into the field, or the use of both proprietary and standards-based fixed wireless technologies, we’re committed to doing our part to bridge the rural digital divide and are willing to be creative to do so. Government assistance in this area is crucial, of course. Not exclusively from a CAF-like funding standpoint, but also from the perspective of creating favorable spectrum policies beyond MNO interests. The advent of shared spectrum for example holds a tremendous amount of promise for expanding broadband in rural areas.

Topic: 5G AND WIRELINE NETWORKS
The first “official” 5G networks are using fixed wireless architectures and will provide fixed broadband service to residential and small business customers. Many analysts say we will see 5G millimeter-wave mobile service in late 2019. Clearly, 5G needs requires wireline network improvements to support it. Share what your organization is doing in this area.

Nichols: We think about 5G in several different veins. Foremost, for us it represents an opportunity to leverage the technology to complement our wireline assets to expand Gigabit speeds to our customers in a cost-effective way. Though there’s much that still needs to be hammered out with mmWave fixed wireless access, we believe it can and will fill a need in our network. From a wholesale and x-haul perspective, we continue to make investments in our infrastructure to support the increasing speeds and capabilities like Time Sensitive Networks that will underlie 5G. We’re also hopeful our advancements and expertise in cloud-native edge compute infrastructure will be appealing to other service providers and verticals with need of distributed compute and storage.

Topic: THE FUTURE
What emerging or disruptive technology excites you the most for the future of the ICT industry?

Nichols: There’s so much going on right now, that’s a hard question to answer. The introduction of cloud native architectures and distributed compute infrastructure is extremely exciting for me. In part that’s because of how it enables a dramatically different technology lifecycle for the telco industry, but also I don’t think we’ve fully grasped the potential applications edge compute enable and that represents a huge opportunity over the next 5-10 years.

At the risk of further feeding the hype machine, though, I think the emergence of machine learning into pretty much every facet of our industry has to be the most exciting and disruptive prospect facing us right now. I know far too often ML gets attached to any and all forward-looking statements these days, and some tend to view it more as “magic learning,” but once you realize just how much data is generated from the networks we operate and how useful it can be in becoming more efficient in those operations, better tailoring it to the needs of our customers, and leveraging it to ensure more reliable and resilient connectivity, it’s hard not to become excited by it. It’s crucial that we as a Service Provider become both extremely proficient in building ML frameworks and models but also that we are extremely careful in how we approach privacy and security to ensure we’re never violating the trust and protection of our customers.

Topic: KEEPING UP
By 2020, 77% of jobs will require technology skills. Describe the ideal skills current telecom employees should learn to keep up. How can they go about doing that while working full-time?

Nichols: Today’s world is far more about understanding software and systems concepts and technologies than it ever has been. Those not willing or capable of adding at least a basic grasp of Linux systems administration and high-level working knowledge of coding with languages like Python will find themselves increasingly hamstrung in their ability to flourish with the next generation of networking. Luckily, there are no shortage of really good resources (e.g., Udemy, Linux Academy) to learn the basics. There’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty, though, so finding ways to apply the knowledge is vital.

Topic: AGILITY
A business needs to run 2 models simultaneously: one optimized for today and one optimized for tomorrow. How do you do that well without neglecting one or the other?

Nichols: I’ll admit that this one has been a bit of a challenge for me. Our Technology group operates in a bi-modal fashion with one side using classical telecom develop, document, and hand off processes optimized for efficiency and scale, and another operating in a full-blown KANBAN DevOps methodology optimized for agility and innovation. There are good reasons for both to exist, mostly stemming from the fact that large organizations can’t transform instantaneously. There are too many well-developed systems, process, and cultures, for that to be practical. It’s important not to tether one to the other from an expectation, methodology, or metrics perspective.

While I’m not sure we’ve yet found the optimal approach, I think it’s important that we be transparent about the successes and challenges within both, and recognize that ultimately we need to reach a point where our corporate DNA as a world-class managed service provider is infused with web-style innovation, empowerment, and velocity. Achieving that will deliver our customers amazing experiences, and our employees will thrive through the opportunity to do so.

Topic: CHANGE
How do you embrace change, and encourage risk-taking across your team?

Nichols: Perhaps it’s easiest to start with how this isn’t accomplished: through micromanagement or overly explicit or prescriptive direction. It starts by ensuring the team is completely clear on, and bought into, the goals and vision for the company and team. That’s tougher than it sounds, but once it’s in place making sure the team understands the level of trust and empowerment they are being enabled with to find creative solutions and explore possibilities becomes the priority. While change is constant in this industry, and in my experience very few people embrace it by nature, most deal with it much less emotionally when afforded the ability to determine the best way to respond themselves. It’s also vital not to be seen as punitive for what I’ll call errors of enthusiasm where maybe someone just reached too far or tried to run too quickly. I haven’t yet adopted the concept of “celebrating failure” as have some in Silicon Valley, but how you react as a leader to these failures will go a long way in determining how willing someone is to take the next risk (that could be a game-changer for the company).

Topic: MENTORING
What hands-on things should good mentors do?
Nichols: Spend time.

Topic: INSPIRATION
Please share a quote from someone who inspires you.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”  – C.S. Lewis

About Art Nichols
Art Nichols is the Vice President of Architecture and Technology at Windstream. He has responsibility for network evolution, hardware and software certification, and technical product development for all business units and technical disciplines in the company.

A 20-year veteran of the telecom industry, Nichols came into Windstream in 2010 through the acquisition of NuVox Communications where he oversaw the Network Architecture Team and played a key role in the launch of the company’s flagship VoIP and converged access product. While at Windstream Nichols has been instrumental in developing numerous products including IPTV, Cloud Security, SD WAN as well as advancing the evolution of the company’s broadband, packet optical, and SDN-enabled network. He is active in numerous industry communities including the Metro Ethernet Forum and a Governing Board member for the Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) as well as the Technical Advisory Committee with the FCC. Nichols considers himself a forward-leaning technologist and takes pride in helping others understand and develop a well-informed and technology-centered vision.

Nichols is a graduate of Clemson University where he holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management.


Mattias Fridström
VP and Chief Evangelist
Telia Carrier

Topic: YOUR ROLE
What’s the most challenging thing about your role, and what is the most gratifying? What is the greatest thing you’ve learned thus far, and how do you plan to “move the needle” in your position this year?

Fridström: As the chief evangelist for Telia Carrier, I generate new ideas and uncover new angles to existing trends and then turn those thoughts into useful, applicable information for the public — be it for our customers, partners, or the general public. I work daily to keep our conversation with the world relevant; staying aware of when a certain topic is exhausted and knowing when a fresh, interesting approach should be explored.

The best part of my position is the feeling that I’ve contributed something new to the conversation, which is very gratifying and boosts my energy and drives the next exploration. This year, as Telia Carrier moves to build more relationships within the Enterprise segment, I look forward to expanding my knowledge and bringing our carrier perspective into the conversations happening in what is a fairly new market for Telia Carrier.

Topic: OVERLOOKED ISSUES
What should all of us in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry be talking about that we are not? Or, what current topic is the most important that needs additional and different attention?

Fridström: Many enterprises are not carefully evaluating and asking questions about what cloud strategy is best for their business. The current trend of publicly telling the market that your new strategy is “cloud first” is something I think many enterprise businesses should spend more time evaluating internally. However, that’s easier said than done. Questions about the visibility and control of their data and how to make this work economically is no small feat.

Topic: RURAL CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
What is your greatest pain point delivering higher speeds to underserved and rural communities? What are some solutions?

Fridström: The largest challenge in reaching rural areas is the availability of fiber — most importantly, fiber at an affordable cost. The initial investment to serve an underserved market is quite high and adding expensive fiber buildout on top of those costs often leads to the decision to invest somewhere where conditions are better, and the business case looks more attractive.

Topic: COST-PER-BIT
What are some realistic solution to lowering the cost-per-bit and OpEx overall?

Fridström: I believe machine learning can change how we operate our network; it has the potential to change our cost structure drastically. We have beta tests in service that will allow us to foresee where the next fault in equipment will occur. Through a project Telia Carrier is doing with the Royal Institute of Stockholm, we have built a tool that can indicate when a component in our network is likely to fail — within 10 days. If we could deploy this tool throughout our entire network, we project that we could lower our OpEx significantly, and at the same time enhance our customers’ experiences.

Topic: UPGRADE REALITIES AND ROI
Upgrading a network is no small feat, nor is it inexpensive. Thus, all network upgrades must be thoroughly vetted to ensure that they provide both the necessary performance enhancements while also making themselves financially viable. It’s a tricky balancing act. What network upgrades should small-to-medium service providers make across their networks so they can serve their customers as well as Verizon does?

Fridström: With more advanced data analytics comes a much better awareness of where the traffic is coming from and where there is an increase in traffic in our network. This insight tells us where we need to make upgrades in the network. If we add one of the fairly advanced simulation tools that exist today, we get a pretty good idea where to spend the money for the next upgrade, allowing us to invest where we will see the biggest impact.

Topic: THE FUTURE
What emerging or disruptive technology excites you the most for the future of the ICT industry?

Fridström: I admit that the cloud still excites me the most. I know it’s been around for a while, but it continues to change the landscape and, in some ways, is democratized the playing field within many business markets. With quite a little effort, you can become a significant player in almost any industry by using the cloud in a smart way. At the moment, it has also led to a “winner takes it all” situation with some cloud players becoming extremely large and wealthy. That said, I’m intrigued how that pans out over the next few years.

Topic: CHANGE
How do you embrace change and encourage risk-taking across your team?

Fridström: The overall evolution of the entire ICT ecosystem has allowed newer companies to lead the market over the incumbents and system integrators. Several years ago, we thought that the incumbents would lead the change, but I would argue that some of them are nearly irrelevant.

The debut of “softwarization” has brought a completely new ecosystem where a great ICT solution is usually a combination of services from many companies, each one executing their piece of the puzzle well. To believe that one company can do it all for the next 20 years is not realistic, but there are companies within the new ecosystem that will stay very relevant over the next 20+ years.

Topic: KEEPING UP
By 2020, 77% of jobs will require technology skills. Describe the ideal skills current telecom employees should learn to keep up. How can they go about doing that while working full-time?

Fridström: There is no question that the telecom industry will be more and more data-driven moving forward. While there are many elements in the telecom network that operate manually, we will soon have more functions completed by systems rather than humans. One impact of this shift is that employees will need to reevaluate where they need to develop their skills and role in order to remain relevant. If a system can do the job you’ve been doing, is there an opportunity for you to develop analytic skill sets that, in turn, can improve that job? Those skills aren’t something you learn overnight, so my advice is to start playing around with data and to see what you can do with it. Investigating new skills will help to stay relevant as an employee.

Topic: AGILITY
A business needs to run 2 models simultaneously: one optimized for today and one optimized for tomorrow. How do you do that well without neglecting one or the other?

Fridström: Agility is certainly not simple, and it is also something we take very seriously. Everything that is classified as business as usual (BAU) needs to continue to work while at the same time we need to evolve our systems to be more automated and connected. Since we started our digital journey back in 2011, we have learned through trial and error about how to handle these 2 topics in parallel. Today, even as we have a strong focus on innovation, we must keep the older BAU machines running, allowing us to deliver the best customer service. We are committed to providing a good experience today while exploring options that make tomorrow’s network even stronger.

Topic: WHAT MATTERS
What are the 3 things that are most important to you, and 3 words that describe you best.

Fridström: The 3 things that are most important to me: that my family stays healthy, that my Telia Carrier team keeps pushing and stretching so that we stay relevant and that we don’t get complacent with the great journey we have already completed — and, finally, that National Hockey League (NHL) players are allowed back to the Olympics.

The 3 words that describe me: effective, competitive, and curious.

Topic: MYTH
What is the greatest myth about being a high-level executive?

Fridström: I often hear people at the coffee station commenting that management is probably not aware of this or not involved in that. There is a misperception that management teams don’t carefully evaluate, question, or discuss, what their employees are doing or think through what is truly best for their customers. The idea that management is focused only on the big questions, not paying attention to questions or concerns that matter to employees, is one of the greatest corporate myths and couldn’t be farther from the truth. I would argue that our management team addresses topics ranging from the 30,000-foot view right down to the ground. So many things are discussed and get attention based on current priorities — way more than the rest of the company may know.

Topic: INSPIRATION
Please share a quote from someone who inspires you.

Fridström: I had a former manager who, many years ago, told me You might not know everything. That has guided me throughout the years and actually helped me a number of times. For example, when I hear about a decision that I might not agree with, I always go back to this advice. I remember that the decision makers may know something I don’t, and, therefore, their decision is actually the best. I try to remember that before I argue, I need to make sure I know all facts.

About Mattias Fridström
Mattias Fridström is VP and Chief Evangelist, Telia Carrier AB. There’s a certain type of person who gets a little bit too excited about networks. Mattias is that guy. Since joining Telia in 1996, he has worked in a number of senior roles within Telia Carrier and most recently as CTO. Since July 2016 he has been Telia Carrier’s Chief Evangelist. Mattias’ passion isn’t limited to networks: he has played golf professionally, and competed on a national level in football and innebandy. Although he has a reputation when it comes to sports as being the “worst loser at Telia Carrier”, he is working hard to overcome this — by not losing to anyone. At anything. Ever. Follow Mattias on Twitter @MFridstrom. For more information, please email jbitz@witzcommunications.com or visit https://www.teliacarrier.com/.


George Karatzis
Director of Fiber Access Engineering
Verizon

Topic: WHEN I GROW UP
How did you find your career in the ICT/telecom industry?

Karatzis: My career began at age 19 when I enlisted in the Air Force. I didn’t have a college degree at the time and my vision was less than perfect. So flying planes was out. Fortunately, I demonstrated a strong vocational aptitude towards engineering and my recruiter pointed me in the direction of telecommunications. That started my love affair with technology and was foundational for me from a leadership development perspective. I found my way to Verizon 19 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I am very fortunate to work for a company that has supported my growth as a technologist and business leader.

Topic: YOUR ROLE
What’s the most challenging thing about your role and what is the most gratifying? What is the greatest thing you’ve learned thus far, and how do you plan to “move the needle” in your position this year?

Karatzis: My current role in Fiber Access Engineering has been the greatest challenge of my career and is also the most rewarding. The scope and pace of Verizon’s fiber densification program is ambitious and unlike anything I have tackled before. My leadership, problem-solving, and relationship-building skills are put to the test daily. While it’s not always easy, I feel like I’ve grown in this role. It’s also extremely gratifying to know that I am part of a talented team that is leaving our thumbprint on the early foundations of the fourth industrial revolution.

The most important action that I can take to help “move the needle” this year is to continue building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with cities. It’s a win-win if we can accelerate our fiber optic deployments and bring next-generation technologies such as 5G to their communities more quickly.

Topic: THE FUTURE
What emerging or disruptive technology excites you the most for the future of the ICT industry?

Karatzis: The evolution to Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are already underway in the ICT industry. I think the most exciting aspect is the business transformation that ensues.

As carriers transform legacy networks to these architectures, new business capabilities will be developed as well. Creating more efficient networks, decoupling hardware and software, and unlocking automation opportunities, will help drive down costs and improve time to market. Customers will ultimately benefit as carriers are able to respond more quickly to shifts in technology and new innovations.

Topic: KEEPING UP
By 2020, 77% of jobs will require technology skills. Describe the ideal skills current telecom employees should learn to keep up. How can they go about doing that while working full-time?

Karatzis: It’s critical to stay relevant regardless of your particular discipline. Intellectual curiosity and the willingness to take some calculated risks are essential for thriving in our environment. So the best advice I can give is to stay current on both technology and business trends by reading, attending industry forums, and staying connected to a diverse peer network. Keep looking into the horizon and ask yourself if your current skill set will be as relevant and valuable in the future. If not, it’s time to pivot!

Technology is constantly evolving, so we have to evolve ourselves as well. Never stop investing in yourself.

Topic: CHANGE
How do you embrace change, and encourage risk-taking across your team?

Karatzis: Attitude in contagious. As a leader, I have to model the right attitude towards new ideas and risk-taking. I have to set that example every day.

It makes a big difference when a team knows that their leader embraces the change, cares about their concerns, and is in it with them. So for more challenging changes, I dedicate extra time to engage with the team, help them understand why the change is beneficial, listen, empathize with their concerns, and take action to help make the changes successful.

I encourage my team to make thoughtful decisions that strike the right balance between risk and reward. If we fail, then fail fast, learn from it, and don’t be scared to take that next risk.

About George Karatzis
George Karatzis is the Director of Verizon’s Fiber Access Engineering and leads a team that designs, implements and optimizes Verizon’s fiber networks in the Southwest Region. George’s team supports consumer, enterprise, and wholesale customers and is responsible for planning and designing the outside plant fiber networks that support all of Verizon’s services.

Prior to this role, George was the Director of Technology, responsible for engineering functions related to the Verizon Cloud Platform, Virtual Network Services, and VoIP services network. He was also responsible for technical facility power and cooling standards and technical support.

During the course of his career, George has held several leadership roles of increasing responsibility with Process Engineering (Lean Six Sigma Black Belt), Network Field Operations (Central Office, CPE, and Special Services), and Network Center Operations (remote maintenance, provisioning, and reliability for optical transport and voice switching networks).

Before joining Verizon, George began his telecommunications career as a Communications Specialist in the United States Air Force.

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George Riggins
VP, Core Network Engineering
Verizon

Topic: WHEN I GROW UP
How did you find your career in the ICT/telecom industry?

Riggins: My career here with Verizon started somewhat by happenstance. My first career was as an attack helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. When I was transitioning out, I met with a career placement company that specialized in placing junior military officers. They asked what I was interested in doing, and I told them that I wasn’t sure, but I love technology and have an engineering and computer science background. They put me in front of a few telecom companies and I chose the one closest to home. I figured I’d work there for a couple years and stay as long as it continued to be interesting. Twenty-two years later, I’m still with that same company, and it is more interesting than ever!

Topic: BEING ALL THINGS TO ALL USERS
A significant challenge for service providers today is the need to simultaneously service consumers and industry verticals, including transportation, high-value manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, Smart Cities, etc. The range of options puts pressure on networks to be all things to all users. What is your advice to other telecom providers about this challenge?

Riggins: Automate and virtualize! Our ability to tailor solutions specifically to individual customer needs faces challenges with legacy network equipment, processes and systems. As an industry, we need to drive to common standards and implement true software-defined networking at enterprise scale.

Topic: CHANGE
How do you embrace change, and encourage risk-taking across your team?

Riggins: Embracing change is much easier for a team to do when a leader can effectively communicate why that change is positive. Let’s face it, most folks are happy to embrace a positive change. In a fast-paced technology company such as Verizon, we are continually evolving and changing in order to maintain our leadership in the industry. Being first comes with some level of risk. We need to encourage calculated risk by celebrating the successes and quickly learning from the failures.

Topic: 5G AND WIRELINE NETWORKS
The first “official” 5G networks are using fixed wireless architectures and will provide fixed broadband service to residential and small business customers. Many analysts say we will see 5G millimeter-wave mobile service in late 2019. Clearly, 5G needs requires wireline network improvements to support it. Share what your organization is doing in this area.

Riggins: This is a timely question! As you know, we were first in the world to launch a commercial 5G mobile network with a commercially available 5G-enabled smartphone. That was a team effort on a monumental scale, and continues to be as we scale and expand our coverage.

In order to take advantage of what we refer to as the “Eight Currencies of 5G” (High Throughput, High Speed Mobility, Massive Scale Connectivity, Tailored Service Deployment, Energy Efficiency, Data Volume, Low Latency, and Reliability), we are transforming our network from end-to-end. Our team is engineering Verizon’s Intelligent Edge Network to provide the connectivity and enhanced capabilities to enable these 8 currencies at the edge and in the core of the network. This new network leverages virtualization and Software-Defined Networking to move capabilities to the very edge of the network — closest to the point of action.

Topic: SMART CITIES
Talk about Smart Cities. How can ICT companies encourage richer Smart City initiatives in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities? Share your greatest learnings about Smart Cities and telecom providers’ interconnected relationships. How do those relationships need to change in the future?

Riggins: We are currently working with many cities across the nation, and provide solutions like traffic management and public safety solutions. As the promise of 5G develops to bring about significant improvements in Smart City capabilities, the relationships with these cities will become increasingly dependent on strong partnership. Their continued willingness to work together toward a shared vision enables us to deploy the Radio Access Network equipment and fiber optic cables to best enable exponential improvements. The power of 5G connectivity will help drive these improvements in cities through public safety (smart street lights, remote security monitoring), transit (intelligent rail, smart parking), utilities (water treatment and management), public Wi-Fi access, and emergency preparedness.

Topic: MENTORING
What hands-on things should good mentors do?

Riggins: The traits good mentors have really aren’t too much different than the traits of a good leader. First and foremost, a good mentor genuinely cares about his or her mentee. That really can’t be faked. Then, a good mentor sets aside time to meet and listen. Really listen. The rest then becomes intuitive on the best way to help that person set and achieve their goals.

About George Riggins
George Riggins is currently the Vice President of Core Network Engineering for Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ). Based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Mr. Riggins leads the team with global responsibility for engineering the IP networks supporting Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless company in the United States, and Verizon Wireline with connectivity to over 2,600 cities. This includes Verizon’s industry leading Intelligent Edge Network, and core MPLS networks serving 99% of the Fortune 1000 companies. Additionally, George leads the engineering of Verizon’s Fios backbone – the most advanced 100% fiber-to-the-home network in America.

After having served as an Attack Helicopter Pilot and War Planner in the United States Army, Mr. Riggins joined Verizon as a Central Office Engineer. He held positions of increasing responsibility in Central Office and Field Engineering, Verizon Advanced Data, Video Network Engineering and Processes Engineering.

Mr. Riggins holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and General Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University.

 

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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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