The People Behind the Tech @ ECI (Part 4)
Roberth Gurnell – Technical Sales Nordics
In this fourth post of the series, (click here to see the previous blog), I met with Roberth Gurnell. Roberth, joined ECI about 3.5 years ago and works as a Technical Sales in our Nordics region, besides that he is a rock star...
A bird’s eye view
Status: married + 2
Tenure: 3.5 years
Q: Things no one knows about you
- Plays the bass in a heavy metal band
- Used to compete at archery
- Huge mountain bike fan
- Prime negotiator – always tries to get the best deals
Q: What does your role entail?
I have the enjoyment of working across all of ECI customer sectors from utilities and critical infrastructures to defense customers and service providers. This gives me both the flexibility and challenge of finding solutions to different customer needs vis-a-vis our robust portfolio. My time is spent on both customer facing meetings: learning about the needs, discussing solutions and understanding how the customer can grow. And ‘laptop facing time’ – when I prepare myself for the meetings or presentations, and when I need to put together a technical spec for a new network design. I enjoy listening to the customer, trying to understand the common threads and where he is going, and coming up with unique, bespoke solutions. This make my job much more than a ‘box pusher’.
Q: How did you come to work at ECI?
Before I worked at ECI, I used to work for a competitor. There, I was also in a technical sales role, but I admit that my focus was much narrower. Essentially, I was technical sales for one customer and for one product. When my previous employer was acquired, I knew that ‘turbulent times’ were around the corner. At that time I was approached by an ECI representative. At the time, I knew very little about ECI, but as soon as I was approached I started looking into it. I researched the portfolio and talked to some colleagues. ECI was known as a very ‘nice’ company to work for with extremely pleasant and talented workforce. In this, sometimes cut-throat industry, nice isn’t a word you hear often with regards to a company. So this naturally piqued my interest. And the information turned out to be right, and there is no comparing my current scope to my previous one.
Q: What do you like most about working at ECI?
Diversity of clientele - ECI has a very broad set of customers, each with his own requirements. But more than that, I truly enjoy working with them. Our relationship is more than just a ‘technical’ consultant, I feel that we are partners on a journey. I look forward to each of my customer facing meetings.
The people – as I said before, the people at ECI are extremely friendly and welcoming. This I cannot say for other companies in the industry. It makes my life easier, knowing that my colleagues have my back and care for my success.
Size – so ECI is not the largest company in the industry, and that I believe is an advantage. Here everyone knows everyone, and even though I am working remotely, my ties and connection to the headquarters is very strong.
Q: Success Story
So I had a customer that needed to transport a number of optical channels over a submarine link. While the rest of the optical network was ECI based, the submarine cable was not, therefore we transported the channels as alien wavelengths. However the submarine system was running out of ROADM interconnect ports, and all our lambdas would have used up all available ROADMs requiring an additional investment in this system. So we found a solution utilizing an optical domain interconnect. In effect we ended up utilizing only one of the ROADM ports making the solution very elegant and efficient. Moreover, everything could be managed using our intuitive NMS.
While this may sound like a small, insignificant example – in actuality I believe this kind of ‘out of the box thinking’, flexibility and collaboration with the customer is unique to ECI. In the end our solution not only worked per the customer concept and ideas, we actually managed to help him save a lot of CAPEX.
Q: How have your challenges changed over the years?
It seems like customers are changing their perception of making business. In the past, customers would build out a network knowing that even if they didn’t utilize all the capacity – the day would come when they would. Today, because of increasing budgetary constraints I see more and more customers looking for a pay as you grow model. They rather choose a risk sharing model or more complex license model, in order to reduce initial price investment.
Of course, today most networks have been built out, and there are very few ‘greenfield’ projects. Along with the virtualization movement, this means that there is more focus on open networking: interoperability, open-source, and standardization are common concerns and points of discussion. Especially in optical. They are all looking to capitalizing on the existing installed base.
Players in the market are changing. While is some places we see players vying for more market share by entering new markets (for instance traditionally optical players trying to expand their portfolio and enter the packet market), in others we see further consolidation of players. The bottom line, competition is becoming ever more fierce.
Q. In your opinion, how will the telecoms industry change over the next 5-10 years?
Well in my opinion there will be a massive change. The way we are connected will be completely overhauled. There will be new devices, new screens, more wearables to and more objects (machines) connected. All this will create even more demand on the telecoms infrastructure. Providers will be scrambling to catch up, there will be more focus on creating the interconnectivity. We will see even more investment in R&D and applications to make this possible. Analytics, provisioning and AI will be key to optimize and capitalize on investments.
Q. How would you summarize your experience here?
Been in the company only 3.5 years but amazed at how much we have achieved so far up here in the Nordics.
Let’s finish with the questionnaire, which side of the following terms are you?
|Packet or optical?||Packet|
|Virtualized or software defined?||Virtualization|
|5G or 4G/LTE?||5G|
|Open-source or home-grown||Open-source|
|Service providers or non-service providers (utilities, etc.)?||Non-SP|
|Disaggregation or integration?||Integration|