Leadership in Telecom: Tim Naramore, CTO of Masergy, on being a change agent

As CTO of Masergy, Tim Naramore says that he spends a lot of his time educating his colleagues about the rapidly changing industry.

Tim Naramore, CTO of competitive business service Masergy, sees himself as a change agent. This call for change is coming at a time when the telecom and IT industries are transitioning to a software-based mentality. As CTO, Narramore says that he spends a lot of his time educating his colleagues about the rapidly changing industry. Narramore and other leaders of Masergy have fostered a culture in which members of the engineering team have an average of 10 years of experience with the company, something that’s typically unheard of in the telecom industry these days.

FierceTelecom: On being a CTO
Tim Naramore:
“It’s definitely not a boring job. Every day I come in there’s something new going on, so staying abreast of innovations is important. Either I am getting older or it’s going faster, it seems like the pace of innovation is so accelerated these days. A big part of my job is just keeping pace and keeping my peers in the organization abreast of what’s going on in the industry and using that knowledge to say where we do we want to go in 24-36 months and outward. It’s kind of hard to see. Someone asked me what percentage of sites will be SD-WAN in five years and my answer was zero because there will be something else.

“I oversee network and software engineering, which are the two pieces that it takes to do things these days. I think that organization was different than a lot of places I have worked where the CIO had more of the software and the CTO had the technology and the box side on the network. We put them together because it was my belief five years ago this stuff would be all become software. We’re hiring a new network engineer and we’re looking for somebody with more UNIX skills than Cisco IOS skills.”

FT: On leading a large organization
“I have been in IT for 35 years, so I am pretty comfortable with the software side of the business. The excitement is around the merging of these two things. Having a clean slate when we started enabled us to really build the software intelligence into everything we do on the network. The things that most people struggle with are for us just a button push. We model all of the devices and we autoconfigure everything in the network, which is how we’re able to put in a portal to allow a business customer to change bandwidth on the fly and have it take effect immediately.”

FT: On setting expectations
“We’re lucky here in that we have a great culture. My network engineering team has an average 10 years of experience with the company, which is very unusual. A big reason of that is because of our size, we run really lean. My experience through leading technology organizations has been that good people want to work with other good people. They really want to be challenged. They want to work with people that are at their caliber. They want to learn new stuff, and most importantly they want to know what they're doing matters.”

FT: On educating employees
“Educating employees always is a challenge. It’s like the old saying: everyone wants change, but no one wants to change. I think that’s the essence of being a technology person in today’s day and age. Throughout my career, I have felt like I have been a change agent. I think we have a good culture here, but it is a challenge to find the right people, especially in this environment.”

FT: On the future
“It will be driving more and more intelligence in the network and more and more intelligence in the services that we offer and allowing them to talk to each other. What gets exciting for us is when you start taking these capabilities like NFV and start chaining that together with being able to change routing on the backbone dynamically or adapt to a security threat. You could not only block the bad traffic but also watch it, see what it's doing, and learn from it. Those kinds of capabilities of integration of the various components are really exciting, and it will all be driven by software. We’re early adopters of machine intelligence and machine learning on our security side. My plan is to take that same core set of disciplines and apply that to our network space over the next few years where it can fix, adapt and heal the network around the problem.”