2019 FierceTelecom Rising Star — Verizon’s Kevin Smith

Verizon's Kevin Smith (Verizon)

The FierceTelecom editorial team is proud to announce our Rising Stars series in which we’re profiling up-and-coming executives in the telecom industry. We’ve selected a slate of executives from services providers, public cloud companies and telco vendors whom we think are on the rise in 2019. We’ll be doling out the names of our winners, two per day, so that our readers have the time to enjoy reading their profiles. And next week, we’ll post a Rising Stars poll, giving everyone the opportunity to vote for their favorite top executive to watch in the FierceTelecom ecosystem. We hope you enjoy the series!

Kevin Smith is a Verizon veteran who started his career in the mid-90s with Nynex, which was the wireline predecessor to Verizon. Nynex merged with Bell Atlantic Mobile in 1997, and then Bell Atlantic acquired GTE and formed Verizon Communications.

Smith, an electrical engineer, was initially hired as an outside plant engineer and that's when he learned everything about the company from its legacy copper network to its fiber optic strategy. He quickly rose through the ranks to eventually become executive director of network capital management where he was responsible for Verizon’s multi-billion-dollar wireline network capital budget.

Today, Smith is the VP of technology development and planning where he overseas the company’s core network element, platform technology, and feature roadmaps. He also works on new technologies such as Verizon’s Intelligent Edge Network and is in charge of selecting the partners and suppliers for Verizon’s wireline infrastructure. He says his job is very exciting because he’s tasked with simplifying all the networks that make up Verizon so that they can bring new services to market faster. But that isn’t easy because it also means that the company has to manage legacy services as well. “I’m very lucky to be part of this network transformation,” he said.

RELATED: Verizon CEO Vestberg: Fiber deployments hit 1,400 route miles per month

Smith attributes his success at Verizon to being able to work with great managers. “I worked with great leaders who trusted me to go out and make decisions without being micromanaged,” he said.

But he also credits his ability to step out of his comfort zone and take jobs where he had to learn new things. “I often took jobs and assignments that I wasn’t that comfortable with,” he said, adding that overseeing the company’s wireline network budget was particularly challenging. “It made me uncomfortable, but I expanded my knowledge.”