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      INAP Executive Spotlight: TJ Waldorf, CMO—Head of Inside Sales and Customer Success


      In the INAP Executive Spotlight series, we interview senior leaders across the organization, hearing candid reflections about their careers, the mentors who shaped them and big lessons learned along the way.TJ Waldorf

      Next in the series is TJ Waldorf, CMO and Head of Inside Sales and Customer Success. Prior to this role, he served as Vice President of Global Marketing at INAP and Vice President of Inside Sales and Marketing at SingleHop, which was acquired by INAP in 2018.

      In our conversation, Waldorf discussed what excites him about the INAP brand, how he got to where he is today after initially pursuing an early career in graphic design and the importance of mentorship. Read on to learn about these topics and more.

      The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

      Tell us how you got into sales and marketing. What inspired you to pursue these areas of business?

      It’s funny when I think on this, because I distinctly remember telling myself that I’d never be a salesperson. Back when I was a teen, I viewed sales as the proverbial snake oil salesman tricking people into buying things they didn’t need. I originally aspired to be a graphic designer and earned a degree in design and visual communications. I always loved drawing and creating. I got that from my mom. But as I progressed into my early 20s and my first real job, I realized sales (and marketing) are about service. We are serving the needs of people and businesses. That was something I could really get behind.

      What excites you most about the INAP brand as it stands today?

      In November, we’ll celebrate the one-year anniversary of our refreshed brand identity and direction: Performance for Your Purpose. At the most basic level, we’re in the data center and cloud services space, yet what we’re doing is providing the foundation for our customers to deliver their services to their customers and deliver on their purpose and mission.

      If we’re not operating optimally, there’s a very distinct domino effect. Have you ever tried accessing a website or an application and found it was unavailable or moving very slowly? We all have. In some cases, that’s because the underlying infrastructure is not working properly, or there are issues at the application level. At INAP, we promise high performance, reliable service and an exceptional customer experience. When we deliver on these promises, our customers get to deliver on their promises. That’s what gets me fired up and excited about the INAP brand. The impact we have on the services that power aspects of our everyday lives is incredibly exciting.

      You recently became CMO and have Inside Sales and Customer Success under your wing, along with Marketing. What are some changes or challenges you’re seeing in these areas of the business?

      I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to oversee these three teams and to view them through a singular lens of how we approach the end-to-end customer life cycle and experience. The addition of the Customer Success org makes logical sense given some of the similarities in the work they do relative to inside sales, and the significant marketing impact they have on overall customer experience. After all, the best marketing comes from word of mouth, so if we (marketing) can enable the customer success org to accelerate the chatter, we’re in a great spot.

      As far as challenges go—and this is not unique to INAP—we work in a very competitive space and must constantly prove our value to our customers. They have choices in the market, so it’s our job, collectively, to reinforce why they chose us to begin with and why it’s in their best interest to stay with us for the long term. It’s certainly not an easy job, but I think we have an opportunity keep improving on the great work these teams have done so far.

      Out of the qualities you possess, which do you think has had the greatest influence on your success? 

      Without a doubt, the first is my drive for lifelong learning. I’ve never operated in any role where I thought I knew everything there is to know, and I enjoy the process of learning and growing my knowledge about a topic. I’m never afraid to ask the potentially dumb question, because nine times out of ten, lots of others in the room have the same question.

      The other quality is finding great people to surround myself with, be it people I report to, people who report to me or mentors I’ve had over the years. There’s a saying that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, to together.” I think about my career in that way. I have a great team here at INAP and see the momentum we’re building together.

      Who are the people that have mentored you or been role models? 

      How much time do we have? I cannot stress the importance of having a mentor or multiple mentors. You can learn things so much faster than without them. This has been critical for me, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without these very important people in my life.

      My parents are truly are the foundation of who I am today. I’m trying to pass the values they shared down to my son. I’ve also had many great mentors throughout my career and find myself bringing new ones into the mix when new challenges or opportunities pop up. I have mentors that run the gamut from CEOs to CMOs, VCs to what usually gets referred to as ‘reverse mentors’—folks younger than me that can keep me plugged into what’s important for the next generation. I even find myself learning from my nine-year-old. Maybe he’s a mini-mentor.

      What advice would you give to someone pursuing sales or marketing in tech, specifically? 

      Remember that your job is to be in service of your customers and their objectives. This is something I learned from my dad. You’re helping them make educated decisions on how the services, tools or platforms you provide will best help them achieve their goals. For sales and marketing, especially in tech, it’s far too easy to get bogged down in features and functionality and forget why a solution was built to begin with. Stay focused on the problem you’re helping the customer solve and you’ll be miles ahead of your peers.

      What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned in your career?

      Being exceptional at hiring and retaining great people probably tops my list. When I first started as a manager, I thought I had to have all the answers and tell people exactly what to do. But I learned that hiring great people and enabling them to do what they do best makes work, and life, 10x more productive and easier. This lesson came the hard way through lots of trial and error. This points back to the old adage of work smarter not harder.

      What are your thoughts on work-life balance? Have your ideas changed over time?

      I once heard Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, refer to this as “work-life-harmony.” That stuck with me. It’s about harmonizing the work and life to achieve your personal objectives in both areas. I do think, however, that there is a time and place to completely unplug. I ebb and flow in this area. My wife and I are both working parents and we try to make sure we’re helping one another find that harmony. Work is such a large part of our life but it’s good to keep its purpose in perspective.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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      INAP Executive Spotlight: Jeff Atkinson, Chief Information Officer


      In the INAP Executive Spotlight series, we interview senior leaders across the organization, hearing candid reflections about their careers, the mentors who shaped them and big lessons learned along the way.

      Next in the series is Jeff Atkinson, Chief Information Officer. Atkinson recently stepped into this role with INAP, taking on the CIO mantle in April of 2019. This post is a departure from our usual format, as Atkinson had the opportunity be interviewed by IDG Connect for their CIO Spotlight series, allowing readers to “discover more about what makes today’s CIOs tick.”

      In the article linked below, Atkinson shares how he discovered his passion for information systems, what he’s learned from his career, challenges and goals he faces in his CIO role and advice for aspiring IT leaders. He also spoke on the IT roles that are most difficult to fill:

      “IT roles are becoming much more dynamic and less specialized. Therefore, the best IT personnel will be diversified and need to have a range of skill sets. It may be less about finding those personnel and more about creating them within the team you already have by providing those opportunities for growth and training.”

      Read the full story at IDGConnect.com.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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      INAP Executive Spotlight: Mary Jane Horne, SVP, Global Network Services


      In the INAP Executive Spotlight series, we interview senior leaders across the organization, hearing candid reflections about their careers, the mentors who shaped them and big lessons learned along the way.Mary Jane Horne headshot black and white

      Next in the series is Mary Jane Horne, SVP of Global Network Services. With over 25 years of network and operations experience, Horne currently oversees INAP’s network engineering, carrier management, and global support teams, and is responsible for these activities across INAP’s worldwide footprint.

      Horne shares the lessons she’s learned throughout her career, working in the technology, media and telecommunications industries in the U.S. and abroad. Read on to learn what she loves about her role in tech, and the advice that she has for those looking to progress along their career path.

      The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

      How did you get started in network engineering? What inspired you to pursue it?

      Growing up, my dad was an engineer. I started out in college as a computer science major, but switched after my first year to engineering. I spent five years at Northeastern University in Boston studying electrical and computer engineering, and I worked for the federal government while in school.

      After graduation, I went to work for the phone company, and my first job was as a central office design engineer. I was given some of the best advice of my career by my first manager, which was to move around as much as I could at the “doer “level, to figure out how the company worked. I had 10 jobs in the 13 and a half years I worked there, with a variety of roles in field engineering, technical sales support, customer service and corporate development. I learned how interdependent everyone was, and how best to improve important processes.

      After deciding to change companies to a small fiber start up, I realized the most important part of any company is its foundation. In the roles I held there, we created the strategy for the company, built out the network, thought out of the box for customer solutions and drove sales from $100k in year one to $64.5M in year five. Here is where I truly embraced the role network plays in driving the success of the company.

      Can you tell us more about your work with the global network services team? What are some challenges with that part of the business?

      Our global network strategy started by going from metro to metro and grooming the network components (both fiber and lit services) which eliminated of a lot of unnecessary costs in running the network. We also lit an express 100-gig ring between 3 key data center locations (Dallas/NY/San Jose) to carry more of our own traffic on-net. We have, since the completion of these first 2 initiatives, been upgrading a majority of the US and trans-Atlantic backbones to 100gig as well, to provide much needed additional capacity. We’re deploying new state of the art technology from Ciena on the fiber and bandwidth we are purchasing, allowing us to provide scalability and redundancy, while giving us the opportunity to develop new products in the future. When all is said and done with these three initiatives, the network operating expenses are flat with what they were before, however, our capacity will be three times what it was in the old network.

      We also have the software side of the network. We have CDN, Performance IP®, Managed DNS, as well as other in-house tools supported by the team. They are continuously evaluating where we need to take these products in order to stay competitive, which may include partnering and white labeling. How do we get these products launched across this network that we are deploying and upgrading? Global network services is not just a foundation, but it’s also the product and services that ride across the network. We have infrastructure evolution, as well as product evolution, and that’s where I focus with the team.

      What do you love about your role in tech?

      Learning new things and trying new things is part of who I am. Because tech is ever changing, it’s always been very exciting for me. I think as tech has evolved, some people have fallen off the bandwagon since they don’t keep up with the latest and greatest trends.

      In tech, you must be a person who looks to the future. I look at what’s coming up, not just how I need to design a network for today, and what the customers need today, but what I need three years from now. What should I consider now to prepare for any changes that might come down the road? That’s one of the things that I’ve always been attracted to in the tech industry— looking far enough ahead to say, “I need to do this, but I don’t want to be shortsighted and do it the cheap way just to get done with today. I want to look at how to do it the best way, so we are ready for the future, and we can then move forward faster.” Tech gives me exciting opportunities to do that.

      Of the qualities you possess, which do you think has been the greatest influence on your success?

      The ability to try anything and rise to challenges, even when I have no idea what I’m doing. I credit my boss, Pete Aquino [INAP CEO], for challenging me over the course of our working relationship. He would say, “I have a need for X.” And I’d say, “I’ve never done that before.” He’d respond, “That’s fine. I know you’ll figure it out.”

      I have learned so much because I did things that I never would have done anywhere else in my career, because somebody trusted me to figure it out. The only thing you need to say to me is it’s impossible, or everyone else who tried couldn’t do it, because now I’m sure I’m going to get it done. I love a challenge. I think that’s driven me through my career.

      Who are some of the people that have mentored you in your career?

      Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given came from another other female leader in the industry. When I wanted to make that jump from being a manager to the next level, my boss at the time was a female director, and that was considered quite the accomplishment (back then) at a phone company. I said to her, “’I’m ready, I’m looking to move up. I’m really excited.” She gave me the second best piece of advice I’ve ever been given: Just because you are really good at what you do today, does not mean you ready for the next level. She pointed out, in order to be considered for the next level, you need to continuously demonstrate leadership qualities and focus on how you embrace and lead change.

      That was an eye opening, great piece of advice. That’s when I made some drastic changes and left the big stable environment to go to a risky startup, where you have to lead every day to be successful.

      If you had to pick a piece of advice that you’d give to someone pursuing IT or network engineering as a career path, what would that be?

      I just approved some training for people who want to learn more. Don’t be afraid to ask for that. Always stay current, always stay hungry, always learn as much as you can, and learn across platforms. It’ll make you more valuable.

      Also, tell your boss what you need and what you’re interested in. You must have open communication with your manager. We are not mind readers, so talk about what your plans might be, or ask for help in developing them. We are the ones who have to drive our own careers.

      Are there any other big lessons you’ve learned in your career that you want to share?

      I learned to take a step back and think about things in the big picture, instead of just what I’m doing today. What I decide to do today could affect what other people will be doing well into the future, especially in technology. Ask yourself, am I really making the right choice, or do I need to evaluate other options?

      I also believe we should cross-train people. At a minimum, I think we should have people sit in somebody else’s job for a week or two, and swap chairs. It gives employees appreciation for other roles and responsibilities that they may not truly understand or have misjudged. It also may help folks develop a path to pursue other roles in the future.

      I was lucky enough in my career to be able to move from department to department, so I could get a better view of how a company worked. You can’t always do that in smaller companies, but I think those are valuable lessons to learn. We should spend more time educating one another on how things work at INAP.

      Laura Vietmeyer


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