It’s interesting what you can see when you look back on what as been close to a 20-year career in public relations. I recently took that trip down memory lane. Here’s some of what I learned:
- I’ve worked for some very cool, very prestigious companies and clients.
- I’ve learned from and worked alongside some of the best pros in this business.
- While I’ve done creative, impactful work on everything from Remington razors to underground storage tank removal, my passion and some of my absolute best work can be found in technology; I like to translate tough, geeky, change-the-world science into language and stories normal people can understand and relate to.
- I’m a startup guy in a corporate suit.
Which is why about a month ago I accepted the executive role of Director, Influencer Management at Alcatel-Lucent. It’s an exciting, challenging and wide-ranging role that combines a number of my favorite experiences of the past two decades:
- A love of emerging technology. At IBM, I led the global communications strategy for Big Blue’s pervasive computing and wireless initiative. We’re talking sensors and chips in everything from toasters to cars. During my six years at IBM, I also handled PR for one of the smartest technologists I’ve ever had the honor to know, John Patrick. Working closely with John and his Next Generation Internet team, I promoted IBM’s efforts around Internet2 and its early entry into Linux. While on the PR agency side of the business, I lived every computer geek’s dream: working with some really smart guys out of AT&T’s Bell Labs to launch an embedded operating system called Plan 9 (you may remember the team behind this as the same team behind Unix).
- A disturbing fascination with infrastructure. Go figure. I’m passionate about the gear that makes all of the really cool things work. I had a blast learning about and promoting AT&T’s IP backbone before the entire world ran on Internet protocols. I geeked out to things like Metropolitan Area Networks leading the PSINet account in the days when 28.8 kbps was a huge pipe. I’ve been deep in the bowels of PAIX.
- A need to push beyond the possible. I’ve worked alongside fiery startup CEOs/founders. I helped launch a startup inside one of the world’s largest and most respected technology companies. Both demanded a constant, damn-the-rules, make-it-happen culture.
- A desire to work with great leaders who inspire great work. I’ve seen my share of good, terrible and great leaders in the years I’ve been in this industry. The great ones are few and far between…leaders like IBM’s VP of media relations, Ed Barbini, and MindTouch’s founder/CEO, Aaron Fulkerson — people you would walk through fire for.
My new role at Alcatel-Lucent is a mix of each of these and more. I am working with emerging technologies and business models that change how we communicate. I’m working with a clear leader driving the infrastructure that makes communication happen. The work we are doing is being done at the speed and with the style of a startup, yet with the backing and resources of a large, global corporation. We are helping to change a corporate mindset. Lastly, and most importantly, I’m part of a small, tight team being led by someone I’ve not only worked with in the past, but respect immensely.
I’m excited about the challenges and opportunities ahead…for me, for our team and for the industry we impact.