E64 - Marlon Bledsoe at Frontier Communication10 July, 2023
During this episode of The Route to Networking podcast, Principal IP Network Consultant, Harry Stephenson was joined by Marlon Bledsoe, the Director at Frontier Communications. Marlon has been at Frontier Communications since 2014 where he started as a Senior Network Planning Engineer. Since then, he has worked his way up the grapevine and is now the Director. Marlon shares his tips on how to keep on top of technology as well as how creativity and out-of-the-box thinking can help you excel in your career.
It all started back in his high school days. Marlon says he was part of the ‘nerdy’ group where they would meet up in the Networking lab before and after school. At that point, he wasn’t really into Networking, but he managed to pick up on quite a lot through his friends. When it came to college, he chose Computer Science based on the fact his friends chose that course so that decision led him into the industry. When he was in his first semester, he was heavily into gaming. The game he was playing was lagging badly and it became frustrating for him because if you die in the game, you lost all your progress. With that, he went to the computer services department to complain to the person in charge. The guy sat there and said, “Okay come in tomorrow and fix it yourself then”. One thing led to another, he went in, fixed it, and managed to secure himself his very first job, and that was where he started to gravitate towards Networking. After graduating, he jumped from role to role but decided he wanted to expand to a larger company later down the line where he was introduced to Frontier Communications.
One thing he has learnt throughout his career that everyone should know is that leadership matters. Most of the time you are concerned about the technical pieces of the puzzle but at the end of the day, those things are changing constantly. Skills such as understanding people and the importance of interacting with people. As problems become more abstract, you will need to have a level of communication in order to succeed. You can’t do everything yourself and you will see that you can deliver a lot more through interacting with other people.
Now the Director at Frontier, some of the daily challenges he’s facing are problem-solving and mentorship. Laying that groundwork for people who are doing all the hard work in order for it to be as smooth as possible and being able to recognise that part of that is understanding the technical side and the people side. The technical side is keeping your skills up to date and knowing what is going to be impactful and what products consumers want. The people side is being able to challenge them constantly and making sure the team are building on their innovation skills.
With technical skills in mind, Marlon keeps his technical skills up to date in an unstructured way. Many people take different approaches to absorbing knowledge like reading books, for example, which would be a very structured way. But Marlon likes to read articles every day that tailor to what he likes and grabs pieces of information from those. For others, he suggests YouTube as that can teach you the basics, which will help you massively.
Some advice he shares to anyone who wants to get themselves into the space is to do your research in the area you enjoy. Start from a technical perspective on learning the OSI model or how TC/IP works but understand it in a way that works best for you. He also suggests going on the certification track as it allows you to start from the ground up, and then get into the more complex stuff further down the line. Try to gain a mentor or have people you can talk to because, at the end of the day, everyone will want to help you so having that person or people to turn to if you have any questions will be incredibly beneficial.
Marlon goes into our quick-fire round with some brilliant answers, he discusses what his 3 non-negotiables are when hiring. So, if you want some ideas on what kind of skills you need to get a career in the industry, give the full episode a listen now!