Before joining Noovis last year, Mike Stedman, operations manager at Noovis, spent 16 years with Verizon in positions of increasing responsibility. Although he was promoted to supervisor, then moved to Verizon FNS (Federal), then back to being a FiOS manager, he earned his stripes by first spending a decade in the trenches – literally – as a cable splicer.
“I know things about fiber that others don’t because I’ve lived it,” remarked Stedman from his Hanover, Maryland office. “I’ve been an ops guy my whole time in the industry. Operations is where the rubber hits the road. I guess I’ve always wanted to be hands-on – part of getting the work done.”
An ability to get things done and push projects forward is Stedman’s most valuable characteristic according to his superiors, several of whom are also former Verizon employees who worked with Stedman there.
“Mike is the kind of guy who doesn’t go to sleep until something’s done, and done right,” said Mike Watts, vice president and cofounder of Noovis.
“Eric Welty, Mike Watts and I started working together in 2004. They’re solid guys. Very highly respected in our industry,” said Stedman. “When they recruited me for Noovis, it didn’t take me long to mull it over. I saw Noovis as a way for me to grow personally and I trusted Eric and Mike.”
That trust was based in part on years of collaboration at Verizon. Among other things, the trio helped develop methods and procedures for Verizon’s Fiber to the Premise build.
“I oversaw all of the maintenance for Maryland and DC,” recalled Stedman. “Any outage. Critical damages, minor damage, you name it. I was managing a 20-person team and it was probably a 100-hour-a-week job but I was happy doing it.”
Stedman also lead an effort to establish a network for the first Obama inaugural parade, which he fondly remembers as a highlight of his career. “It was the largest inaugural event of its type and we furnished a flawless network for it,” he said.
Like all of his Noovis colleagues, Stedman is passionate about the PON industry. “We have barely scratched the surface so far. PON is still in its infancy. It’s still new to most people. They need to get their hands on it to understand what single-mode fiber to the desktop, WAP location, hospital room, hotel room, or college dorm really means. People just need more time to adjust to the idea that they won’t have an Ethernet switch in an IDF closet down the hall. But when they do – and they are starting to – this industry is going to take off like wildfire.”
“If you ask me to sum up Noovis, I would have to say it’s a great mix of smarts and gumption,” said Stedman. “All I know is that for the last year I’ve been excited about getting up and going to work.”