E6 - Zac Cronauer at Blue Ridge

Zac  Cronauer

By Zac Cronauer

On the sixth episode of The Route to Networking, Harry Stephenson, USA Consultant here at Hamilton Barnes, speaks to our special guest, Zachary Cronauer the Head of Fibre Initiatives at Blue Ridge Communications. Zachary takes us through his history and his interesting start in the Fibre world.

Zachary first started his journey in the army, originally having no clue what path he wanted to take, he went down the army route. Whilst being in the army, he went down the route of Strategic Communications and was eventually deployed to Iraq in his 20s. During his time in the army, he kickstarted his career into Fibre, after getting certified by the Fibre Optic Association, he went into Fibre Optics and took care of the fibre plant in Iraq.

His journey snowballed from there, he was able to get a Fibre Optic position outside of the Army at Blue Ridge Communications, where he landed his role as Head of Fibre Initiatives. The role at Blue Ride was created because they needed someone to make all the various parts of the company come together and Zachary was the perfect person for that as he has a very diverse skill set and ultimately his hard work through the years paid off.

Through his 10 years of being at Blue Ridge, his progression has grown massively and rapidly. During his start-up in the company he was doing his Bachelor’s degree alongside it, so it meant him having to balance a lot of different plates. Zachary is a firm believer in hard work, which we can evidently see… proof is in the pudding right?

With being in the industry for a decade, Zachary would have seen it grow and change constantly. He has seen advances in technology to make it simpler, the acceptance of Fibre has grown greatly as there was a lot of fear with how long it took to repair, and its cost whereas now not so much. He’s also seen the change in Fibre and how it’ll help economically regarding Infrastructure etc.

So, who are Blue Ridge and what do they do?

Blue Ridge is a Tier 2 Cable Provider in the US that service Eastern Pennsylvania Cable TV and Internet. They have launched Multi-Gig Pond in the past year and are a company that embraces Fibre. They work around a rural area and the morality of the company produces the best solutions moving forward.

Speaking of solutions, Zachary tells us how he determines what solutions are going to fit best with his companies’ problems…

“It’s knowing your personnel… When I choose a solution it's based on what’s best for Blue Ridge. When training I get to know everybody, where their strengths are, and I can put them in the best position to succeed. That’s what I do with solutions and working with manufacturers that support our needs and what’s best for Blue Ridge”.

Being part of such a large company and in a particularly advanced role, Zachary tells us the daily challenges that he must face and overcome at work. Troubleshooting is one of them, with so much fibre running, it’s bound to have issues. Going through the process of doing it or having to help someone else go through and learn about it, is one of his main challenges every day. Talking to vendors and manufacturers to see where lead times are standing is another. Due to the pandemic, a huge thing that has become a daily challenge is scaling lead times in fibre because everyone wants it.

Being an expert in his field, Zachary believes that the most important skills to have are a willingness to learn, being able to be open to new ideas and being an all-round open person that uses initiative.

Off the back of that, how does he make sure to perform to the best of his ability every day? One trait he has is that he is very hard on himself. He tells Harry the set of skills he uses in his daily life to achieve his goals at work. You don’t want to miss it! Listen to the podcast.