Shirley Bloomfield may have just become the CEO of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) just last month, but she's far from a novice NTCA player at the industry association known for being a voice of the rural service provider.
After stints serving in the regulatory departments of both Qwest and, more recently, Verizon, Bloomfield rejoined NTCA this July 2010 as its new CEO following the retirement of long-time president Michael Brunner.
At first glance, it would be easy to ask Bloomfield why she left her previous NTCA post as VP of government affairs, to go to first Qwest and Verizon, but in reality this journey served as preparation for her new role.
"The advantage for me to take this detour by working at these operators, gave me a chance to see how they work, how they operate and what their challenges are," Bloomfield said in a recent interview with FierceTelecom. "I recognized that a lot of things that keep smaller telcos up at night are in some ways not all that different than what a large company is worried about. It's just a very different scope and scale and shareholders vs. your neighbors if you're a cooperative."
Bloomfield is now applying that knowledge in her new role at the NTCA.
Chief among her initial goals as the CEO will be to focus on increasing NTCA's advocacy for its independent telco members.
Unlike the old days when the main concern for the independent telco was on just maintaining voice service, independent telco leaders now have to have a new set of skills required to run a phone company, and Bloomfield will be able to use her policy and regulatory skills to help her rural provider constituency navigate through the inner workings of USF reform and finding economic models that work spur new broadband deployments in their respective service territories.