Mainly mobile technology stuff

No one listens to me

, posted: 15-Oct-2009 12:33

For considerable time I have been complaining about how a number of senior executives have not been responding to my insightful, thought provoking and business changing ideas. On a number of occasions I have gone out on a limb to contact someone senior to express an issue I have seen that I think should be addressed.

It takes courage to write to someone senior when you have no context or knowledge on how they will respond. Will they forward my idea to my boss with the note "who is this fool", or will I simply be ignored because I am at the wrong level of the organisation to be giving advice.  These are my fears.

And then today as I spend time attempting to reach that nirvana known as "inbox zero" I came across a couple of emails from a junior engineer highlighting something they had found on the Internet that I may be interested in. I had not replied to these emails. They had been opened and were sitting in the pile of things "I was going to get back to".

OMG, I had become the senior person that was not responding to emails from junior staff. What had I become. I was just as guilty of not responding as the same senior executives I had been ranting about to my colleagues.

It was not that I did not intend to respond, as these messages were still in the "to do' pile, it was that I had not prioritised these above other work.

I should have realised that to the person sending the email this was an important issue that they thought would be of value to me. This is the exact behaviour I wanted others to see that I was expressing.

Today, I know I have disappointed people
Today, I want to appologise
Today, I want those people know I plan to make a bigger effort
Today, I am more accepting of other peoples failings
Today, I am human.

September 24 1985

, posted: 24-Sep-2009 13:38

Here is a little story I wrote today for my colleagues that some of you maybe interested in.

It was 24 years ago today that I walked into the Hamilton East Telephone Exchange to start my journey of discovery into the Telecommunications industry. The noisy background of this electromechanical environment was a shock for a 19 year old recent university dropout. My official title was Trainee Telephone Technician, my job was to make the tea, run cable jumpers on the main distribution frame to connect new customers (and disconnect customers who did not pay their bill) and fix the Senior Technicians lawn mower.

6-9 months later I was transferred as part of trainee rotation to the main Hamilton Telephone exchange in Caro St. One of my most memorable experiences was witnessing the incredible dedication, that still lives today, of the technical staff of this company as they dealt with NZ largest natural disaster in living memory. The 1987 Whakatane earthquake. 

Oh, and in 1987 Telecom was born.

After a period installing PABX's, sometime in 1988 I started a 10 year education in Wide Area Networking. This started with installation and maintenance of analogue data systems for customers. My favourites were Huntly Coal mines and the Mangakino power station. This technology evolved to Digital Data Services (DDS) the forerunner of the Digital Services Transmission Network (DSTN) that still lives, just, today.

Remote working (via dialup) became a big part of my life when I joined the Network Management Centre (aka NCC aka NOC) after the most gruelling 90 minute interview of my life. I was one of the first to get a dedicated desk top personal computer with an IBM PS2 Model30. Running MSDOS3.1 and Windows 2.0 with 64K memory and 30Megsabytes of hard drive space was cutting edge. Sometime around 1990/1991 I got my first Mobile phone. It came in a suitcase with a curly cord.

Being responsible for the 24/7 operation and availability of the DSTN became an intense period as the role involved Unix/OS support as well as application and user support for the management platforms let alone being the management centres SME for this technology. Resetting passwords for shift workers at 3am was not uncommon aside from the usual OS/application maintenance stuff or the regular microwave, cable and fibre outages affecting this service. Service management was a big part of our lives where minimising customer impact was our greatest focus, above fault resolution.

1994 was were I started my international globetrotting with a month long trip to Milan, Italy, to scope a replacement for the management systems used to support the DSTN. Somewhere here I got my first laptop priced at around $14K. A year later I had two more trips to Milan for a total of nine weeks. Those who have been involved with software development and testing will appreciate the phrase "stessa merda giorno diversa". July 1995 saw me seconded to Wellington for "3-6months" (I'm still here) to lead the technical delivery of this project where I was responsible for system deployment, network design, functionality and user testing, database conversion (3 databases into 1), user training and final acceptance.

During '94 & 95 there was considerable industrial action which resulted in most of the staff at the time going on strike. A very stressful time for some parts of NZ with aggressive picket lines and blockades of various buildings. The administration manager of the NOC brought in several boxes of Watties Baked Beans in case those of us "scabs" working got stranded inside the building. Lucky for everyone the Hamilton picketers were not in anyway aggressive, to the point that they actually entered the building to get the tea trolley at morning tea time. Luck for them as my American Football team offered to cross any picket lines to ensure that I did not miss out on lunch.

Back in Wellington the next four years involved a number of Operational Support System (OSS) design and network deployments including multimillion dollar contract negotiations for a number of technologies including; Frame Relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), and IP Core MPLS network. Somewhere in this time I became a Project Manager including Project Management Institute (PMI) training, but don't tell anyone:)

November 1999 gave me the opportunity to skip out on the farce that was Y2K and join the CDMA Mobile network deployment project. My job was to manage the delivery of all things Data related, including WAP Gateways and Online Portals not to mention the various Lucent technologies.

The last nine years have been a blur of all things Mobile where I have been involved in product development, network support, corporate sales, technology strategy, bespoke customer application development, international conference presenter, solution design, customer support, technology deployment/implementation, media relations, TUANZ presenter, vendor negotiation, guest university lecturer, author of international standards and lots of other stuff that escapes me right now.

What have I learnt on this journey;
    logos and brand names come and go
    restructures happen
    executives come and go
    no one is indispensable
    it's the people that make the process work
    you need to be a master of your own destiny
    knowledge is power only if you share it
    the value of institutional knowledge is not understood
    the company will not fail because the frontline staff and engine room guys & gals won't let it
    you can make a bigger difference that you can imagine
    it's the relationships you build (and mend) that make the biggest difference

Have I ever wanted to work somewhere else - yes
Do I regularly have offers to work overseas for larger companies, more money, or both - yes
Do I get as frustrated as hell - yes

Why do I stay, simple, because I really really enjoy what I do, I get to do lots of different things, the people I get to work with are amazing and I get to be part of making a difference to the lives of New Zealanders.

So enjoy your day, thanks for taking the time to read this and know you make a difference.

NealR's profile

Neal Richardson
New Zealand

Firstly, I am a engineer. I am not from marketing, sales or public relations. Feel free to correct me if I have got anything technically incorrect.
This blog is a place for me to put technical stuff about mobile networks that I feel may be of interest.

Favorite Question from 3rd form (year8) Science Test:
If it takes three days for a bald headed red herring to swim through a barrel of tar then how long is a piece of string?

Twitterid: nealrich