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The Secret to 20 years Strong in Telecom Services with Andrew Herring and Kelly Lazuka of Fullerton

It requires a strong training program and great leaders to focus on self-performance and doing everything in-house. Join Carrie Charles as she talks to Andrew Herring and Kelly Lazuka of Fullerton, a company doing just that. Andrew is the Sr. Vice President of Strategic Development and Kelly is the President of Wireless Services. Learn how Fullerton develops employees and leaders with their innovative model in the newest episode below.

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The Secret to 20 years Strong in Telecom Services with Andrew Herring and Kelly Lazuka of Fullerton

I am thrilled because I have with me two amazing people with a company that I highly respect, and that is Fullerton. Andrew Herring is a Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Fullerton, and Kelly Lazuka is the President of Wireless Services for Fullerton. Thank you both for joining me.

It’s our pleasure.

Thanks for having us.

Tell me a little bit about how you’ve got to where you are, your roles, and your career path. Kelly, why don’t you start? You just joined Fullerton.

I was with my previous company for 21 years. This is only my second job in the industry. I started as a site acquisition specialist knocking on farmer’s doors and asking to lease space to sell customers. I didn’t know anything about the industry. I don’t even think I had a cell phone when I was out there doing that. It was a different time back then.

Over the years, I learned a lot and held all different positions like Project Manager and Program Manager. Even one time, I had a troubleshooter title, some crazy title like that, and then Director. Before I left my previous employer, I was the Vice President of Business Development. I transitioned from operations over to the sales side for a little bit. I’m back dipping my feet in operation. That’s my path. It has been exciting.

I started in the business in 2009 in staffing. My intro into wireless telecom was with staffing. I had a staffing background in healthcare prior, and then I jumped into staffing for wireless, so deployment type of services. From there, I bounced around a little bit but always held roles in sales capacities to the point where I was starting to run sales teams and strategies always for deployment types of companies. I dipped my toe a little bit into the product side of the world but for the most part, it has always been selling services.

The opportunity at Fullerton came to start a group, build it the way I want to do it, go after different things, build organizations and service lines. That’s what I do. My role as Strategic Development is to lead the sales team that we have at Fullerton. I set the sales strategy in terms of who we go after and how we go after them. Kelly and I also sit on the management team, so I have my corporate responsibilities as well.

Let’s learn more about Fullerton. Tell me about the services that you provide and who you do serve.

Folks on the show reading would probably think of Fullerton as primarily an Annie Company. That’s what we have been for a long time, and it still is very much our core but we are much more than that. At the heart of it, we are an engineering design real estate and installation company within the wireless and wireline space. At Fullerton, we’ve got three divisions.

We’ve got one, which is our wireless services, which is where Kelly is and her group. That focuses on anything soft costs related to the towers. Your site acquisition, engineering, design, and through permitted on the tower, Kelly’s group focuses on that. She’s got a national group. We can do work all over the country. We are licensed in all 50 states.

Embrace brand-new technology because that can give you a real competitive edge.

We also have what we call utility services led by Jason Palmer. He’s our President. That gets us more into that wireline space. Years ago, Fullerton jumped into that space providing fiber design services to a small cell. The small cell started to pick up. Since then, we have organically grown that group to a fairly large size. As you know, the industry is headed that way. We are seeing a lot of activity in the fiber space. We can do anything from engineering design to the node, macro and building. You name it. From an outside plan perspective, that group focuses on that.

Our third division is called Technical Services. It’s led by Marc Steinbach. What we do there is anything related to DAS in building design and installation. We do a little bit of installation on the macro and the small cell side of things. We acquired about years ago to a local GC to Chicago and the Midwest, which allowed us to expand our installation capabilities. We are starting to see a lot of growth and activity with our installation capabilities and the small cell space, as well as the macro space.

What makes you different than other companies that do what you do?

There are other companies whose models are very similar. It’s not like we have created something super unique over here. What I always like to tell people is that we focus on self-performance as much as we possibly can. We want to make sure that Fullerton can guarantee a good product that is coming from Fullerton. You see a lot of companies out there that are large, tier-one direct but they don’t specialize in anything. They do a little bit of this and that. A lot of it is more project management-based rather than the folks doing the work, producing the deliverables. They are going out to subcontractors for that.

We pride ourselves on trying to self-perform as much as we possibly can in-house. We like to say that we’ve got the best of the best. We have a good engineering team. We have been doing it for several years. We have a good niche to bring in good engineers, train them the right way and deliver an exceptional product. The same goes for all of our services. We are trying to keep the quality there by self-performing as much work as we possibly can. The full life cycle of deploying cell sites in networks is something that we have focused on.

We pivoted to be able to handle all of that. Self-performance and finding the best possible people to do that is the key. We are utilizing technology and automation to deliver this. Goods and services need to be delivered differently and we have embraced technology and automation to be able to help us do that. That gives us a competitive advantage as well.

Any other thoughts, Kelly? I want to know more about your group and also a little bit about your vision. What are you going to do? What’s on the horizon?

Sufficient is evolving. I’m proud of the group I’m working with. Some great legacy people were here before me, and we have brought in some great folks as well. My division houses engineering and site acquisition, I have about 100 or so people, both full-time employees, and contractors. There’s a good mix. A good portion of that team sits here in Chicago, which is where Andrew and I are based. I do have quite a few folks sprinkled through the US as well as we do have in-market resources.

As far as what that vision looks like, I have been thinking about this since I started. In Fullerton, we have always been a leader in the engineering space in the industry but my goal for 2022 is pretty simple. I positioned Fullerton to be one of the top, if not the top self-performing sci-tech and engineering vendors nationally. We want to be the best and do the best for our customers.

5TT 70 | Self Performance
Self Performance: A lot of companies out there don’t really specialize in anything. They do a little bit of this, a little bit of that. But Fullerton really prides itself on trying to self-perform as much as it can in-house.

How we are going to get to that vision is the question. There’s a lot of competition out there in the sci-tech and the engineering world. Given that I’m still relatively new, I’m trying to keep it simple. Andrew Headed on is putting the right people in place and setting up culture at Fullerton where our teams want to work, where there’s this mutual respect between the leadership and the teams.

Leaders are taught how to get progress, and teams are taught how to stretch themselves. I don’t mean overwork themselves but more challenged themselves. For us to allow them to challenge themselves, we need to make sure that we have the right systems, tools, and the most efficient workflow processes in place. This is the key to setting up our good people for success. Andrew is going to talk more about the culture in a bit. Certainly, the tools and the processes we have been working on improving since I started. We are excited about that.

How we accept work and deliver on the work that we commit to is going to change a little bit. We are being a little bit more strategic on what scopes we take and where geographically we accept work. It’s hard to say no to a customer. I have fallen into that trap. We are afraid of ruining the relationship and not getting asked to participate in future work. What I have found is that the customers want honesty. They want us to tell them if it’s a scope we can’t handle, a market that doesn’t make sense for us or if we are too overloaded.

Most customers understand and appreciate our honesty because we are helping them avoid failure and breaking a relationship in the future. The last thing I want to focus on in getting us to be that top-performing vendor is our operational strategy. There are a lot of competitions. Vendor pricing is driven down. Milestones are probably lower than we have ever seen them. Our customers have matrix pricing and take it or leave it pricing.

As a result, Fullerton doesn’t have the option to be a cheaper option but we can certainly be the fastest. We can create quality deliverables for our customers. That is the goal. We want to be fast but we want to do it right. I have been working with my Vice Presidents on both my engineering and site acquisition side, Ahmed Garcevic and Sameer Aleem, respectively to set up this high-performing model. We are ready to rock and roll in 2022.

I will add. Kelly was such a key hire for Fullerton because as we were making that shift and pivoting into the site act space, we had started doing it years ago but at a very small scale. As we started to get more tier-one contracts and get a bigger look at things across the country, we didn’t have the personnel to deliver that. We didn’t have the tools and the experience. We didn’t know what we were doing.

Leaders are taught how to get progress and teams are taught how to stretch themselves.

We had done a good job of getting it off the ground organically but how do you then deliver on it and deliver at scale, and deliver the good quality product? That was why Kelly coming over was so big for us. It was such a big land that she had that experience. She has done and seen it. She’s come over and done a phenomenal job but it was key for us to get Kelly to be able to deliver on the strategy and the model. I can’t harp on that enough.

Fullerton was a different company years ago. Tell me how has the company changed.

Primarily, A&E was always the focus. Kudos to the owner of the old ownership prior to me joining because we do have new ownership. They did see the writing on the wall. They said, “The industry is changing and evolving. We need to do something about it.” Kudos to them for acknowledging that. It’s hard for companies who have been in business for that long to acknowledge that something needs to change. They started to put the wheels in motion to expand other service offerings and to be able to capture more scope. Some of the wheels were emotional but we were stuck.

They didn’t have the people and experience that had done that before where they had opened up other clients and had gone to the carriers direct. In the last years, my focus has been one, going out there and getting those tier-one contracts. Historically, Fullerton has always worked through program management-type companies, third parties, turf vendors, etc. We had to go out and acquire those contracts. That takes a lot of time to get paperwork and get in front of those people. There’s a lot of energy and effort for myself and others in obtaining contracts that we want.

Two, getting the word out that Fullerton does these services. We checked the box of contracts but then you’ve got to go to the markets and say, “We can do this work for you.” Historically, Fullerton was known as that engineering company. Getting the word out that Fullerton does much more than that takes time. We were out there grinding and making sure that the industry was aware of what we were doing and where we were going. The last piece of that is winning the work, getting the work and delivering on the work.

We were getting folks that were giving us opportunities and kept delivering on the work, and that was huge. Adding these strategic hires like Kelly to help implement these processes we kept doing, we are where we are at. Being a tier one provider, offering more services that are more turnkey for the life cycle of our projects, and self-performing as much as possible are the three things that we focused on in our strategy, and it’s worked out for us.

The world of telecom services has changed. Talk a little bit about the changes that you have seen being in that world, also maybe some of the challenges that you have had to overcome, and maybe some strategies that you have used to be successful in services.

The landscape has changed in our industry. We’ve got a lot going on, a lot of buzzwords but what I have seen is a major change in the way that our clients are buying work, buying goods and services. Before, you get a contract, go to the markets, say you can do the work, and deliver the work. That’s how it was. Now, there’s much more complexity to it. We are seeing that there’s a lot more national sourcing involvement with our clients.

Not only do you need to get the contract but you’ve got to make sure sourcing knows who you are, what you do, and where you do it. They have to be very familiar, and you have to have that relationship but then you also have to make sure the markets know who you are, where you can do it, and how you do it. It’s added a level of complexity to the sales process.

You are seeing the companies that are being successful in this space are the companies that have figured that out. “Sourcing is very much involved. This is how they like to buy services.” They are consolidating, wanting the single-source type of solutions. You’ve got to make sure that you check that box, and they know who you are. At the same time, you’ve got to make sure that your sales folks are in the market, keeping those people happy so they know who you are.

5TT 70 | Self Performance
Self Performance: To find success, you have to focus on being a tier-one provider, offer more turnkey services, and try to be self-performing as much as possible.

It’s added a level of complexity but you have seen the successful companies come out of the last years have figured that out. You have seen some of the old guard companies either get gobbled up in M&A activity or they haven’t been as successful with growth. It’s very much different but we have pivoted ourselves over the last few years to be able to handle that and be attractive. Not only sourcing the markets but in the way that these folks are buying.

I also think that more of our customers are looking for a turnkey model. Before, they would have multiple vendors for different aspects of the work, so they would have an RF firm for design, and they would come in and get a site app vendor, then an Annie vendor, a construction vendor, and an integration vendor. Our customers are looking for more of a one-stop-shop, and we are seeing that. That’s the other reason why Fullerton has started to house more services so that we can limit the points of contact and make our customers’ lives easier, too.

Sourcing has a role. I don’t want to act like I’m talking poorly but my sourcing friends are around the country in the globe. They have a goal to get the best bang for their dollar and consolidate services. I get that. That’s the world we live in. We, as vendors in the community, have to get creative with how we deliver work. That’s on us. There are a lot of smart people and tools in the world for us to take advantage of. We should be lobbying for better prices because there’s a lot of value in the work that we provide. Unfortunately, it is what it is. We have to be creative and come up with solutions on how to navigate that to deliver that work.

You talked about people and talent. Kelly was instrumental in getting you to that next level. Do you have any strategies or anything that you are doing that is successful in attracting the talent that you need to attract? It’s a tough market. We all know that.

It’s a tough time for resources for a lot of industries like the restaurant industry. Our industry is no different. Companies are having a hard time finding people but I honestly have always believed that if you find the right people with the right work ethic, if they have relevant experience, transferable skills, and if we were able to develop this robust training program, we can teach our business. There’s no longer a need for all of the individuals that you hired to be experienced. It’s very hard to come by at the moment. This has not always been a popular opinion.

I tried this model years ago with some of my experienced leaders. I said, “We have to hire this huge workforce. Here’s how we are going to do it.” We came up with this training, and they fought me. Good Lord, they fight me on this. They were like, “Kelly, they don’t have any experience. The learning curve is going to be too long. I have to teach, train, mentor, and do this.” What they found, and if you’ve got them all together, they would say the same thing. I would like to think is that they’ve got to mold and shaped these individuals who have come to them with zero bad habits who are most eager to learn a new career. Recruiting in this way helps in a few different ways.

You have a larger resource pool from which to pull. You have maybe more affordable resources, more of those entry-level resources that you can bring into the fold. Committing to these folks in this way shows that Fullerton is committed to loyalty, and in return, we build loyalty. From there, it’s pretty easy. You are able to create your internal leadership pipeline because your team was trained correctly from the start.

This concept is easier said than done, certainly. You need to have time to train and get past the learning curve, which most likely includes some investment to carry costs. Quite honestly, not all companies have this luxury. That’s why I feel fortunate to be part of Fullerton because they are taking that leap. That opens the door for huge opportunities for us to deliver.

If you have a robust training program, there’s no longer a need for all your employees to be really experienced.

We have a fantastic trainer who’s not only creating training modules for these new folks but she’s patiently working with them every day to hone their skills and throw new challenges at them so that when new work comes in, this bench of people are ready to start immediately and be successful for our customers right out of the gate. That’s important.

Customers want immediate results. Everybody is in this world where we want that immediate gratification. Training book like this is invaluable for companies like Fullerton who never had a formalized training program in place. I don’t know about you, Andrew, but when I started in this industry, knowing nothing and not even what a cell tower looked like, I would have benefited from something like this. Instead of like, “Here’s a telco box and an electric pole. Find something close to there for our customers to lease.” The training we are providing is immediately setting up our teams for success.

You hired a trainer. I tell so many of my clients that, “You hire people that can train, and it will allow you to get top talent, higher character train skill. It’s all there.” I’m all in for that. Andrew, any thoughts on that? What are your secrets? Share some secrets here.

Kelly nailed it on the head. In our industry, where we are a little resource crunched, we’ve got to do something different. This model is different. Bringing in some people that don’t necessarily have the experience per se in telecom and training them the Fullerton way. You can tap into a new type of pipeline but also you build loyalty. People feel appreciative of investing in their training, career-pathing, and development, which is huge. A lot of times our industry is so fast-paced. You know from a staffing perspective, you get hits like, “I need this wreck-filled tomorrow.”

They want a body that has a resume that fits the job description but if you can develop and train people, put some energy and investment into it, in the long run, it will pay off. That’s always in our luxury because our clients want everything done and things done as quickly as possible. It’s a fine balance but the way the industry is, we don’t have enough resources, so we’ve got to do something a little different.

5TT 70 | Self Performance
Self Performance: The telecom industry is so fast-paced, that people just want a body that has a resume that fits the job description. But if you can really develop people, it’ll pay off in the long run.

Those people that have started in this industry that had no knowledge years ago have fanned out into our customers, tower companies, and other vendors. They are thriving. That’s near and dear to my heart because they are like, “Look at my babies. They are all grown up.” It’s so nice to see them trying out other roles and growing in their careers.

What is the Fullerton culture like? What’s it like to work at Fullerton?

Coming from me, what I would say at the top of that is our people. People matter at Fullerton. We had posted something on LinkedIn about an employee that has been here for twenty-some years. There are a lot of people like that at Fullerton. There is a lot of 15 plus, 16 plus years people at Fullerton, which says a lot in this age where people are bouncing around jobs left and right. There’s a lot of loyalty here. First, there’s something to be said about having a workforce that has people that are here longer than fifteen years.

Fullerton takes care of its people. With that, it’s the investment in those people, the career pathing and things like that. Fullerton values that, and we see that daily. We are continuing to build off of that. Kelly is focusing on training her people and division. The dedication to the people is huge. The constant professionalism here always amazes me.

Before I even was at Fullerton, I always viewed them as a very professional firm and logo. The way they reached out history, carry themselves at events, and things like that were always very professional. You will still see that up and down the roster at Fullerton. We strive to make sure that our quality is there and we are the utmost professionals at all times. You can see that.

Another thing that’s amazing here is the diversification in our workforce. You look at our roster of employees. They have all different national backgrounds, different sets of skills from different industries all over the place, and that’s amazing. Diversity is huge for us. It’s not because it’s big for a lot of our clients but it’s big for us. We were a minority-owned business before we went through a private equity acquisition, and that’s very important to us. You see that a lot of our leaders are females, and our minorities with different backgrounds. That’s something that we try to continue to support and move on.

Those are the big things that you will see at Fullerton. As we went through a pandemic, it allowed us to open up our eyes to how we did business and hired people. We used to be such a headquartered-focused company but then we have discovered that you could do business in so many different ways with the technology that’s out there.

We have tried to create an environment where you can work and live anywhere. As long as you check the box, you are a good person, you’ve got some transferable skills, and you are teachable, we will bring you on and give you an opportunity. That’s all it’s about. Those are the things that stick out to me that make us a little different. That creates a culture that we have.

You are right about that because we staffed for you. It’s congruent with our candidates and the employees that we have at Fullerton as well. You have created something special. That’s for sure. Speaking of something special, what do you look for when you are hiring? Is there a particular type of person that fits that culture? Who are the Fullerton team members? You said professional. Tell me a bit more.

I thought a lot about this question, Carrie. I figured I could give the canned response of hardworking, organized, and professional experience. All of those things are important. I’m not downplaying any of those but they are important to everybody. In every industry, they are givens. For me, I have a few other characteristics that I look for when hiring a team and putting up a high-functioning team together. One of those was diversity in background, experiences, and ideas.

Don’t be afraid to hire someone who knows something or someone that you don’t. It only makes you better.

I never saw the value or believed in hiring all people that come from the same experiences, or beliefs as each other or as me, for that matter. It’s important to have a well-rounded team. Sometimes, a team that’s smarter than me. Some people are threatened by that. One of my mentors once told me, and a lot of famous business folks have said this, “Don’t be afraid to hire someone who knows something or someone that you don’t. It only makes you better. Be confident in what you bring to the table. Your team will make you better.”

I believe that. When I encourage that collaboration amongst a diverse team, as I have seen in my past working history, magic happens. It’s amazing what ideas and concepts come out of that team. Diversity is important to me. Being dynamic and agile is huge, especially in our industry. You can’t be fixed in the status quo. Our industry has changed, and it’s evolving over the years, and the way customers hand out business and so on. People who aren’t afraid to grow and change as our industry grows, that’s great and important to a high-functioning team.

I like taking risks, trying new models and things. Especially here at Fullerton, where there’s so much opportunity to do that, it’s nice to have a team with me that sees that long-term vision and wants to keep learning and growing with you. I love to hear ideas on how to be more efficient and effective coming right from those teams.

I like when they challenge me. I like hearing how to do things differently and how to do them better. Having this dynamic, flexible, agile makeup, honestly, naturally sets us up for success when new customer demands are placed on us or when customer priorities change. The person that fits into that dynamic culture, I feel, will be successful.

Lastly, this goes without saying but the character is super important. Reputation and good moral character will set you apart from any competition as far as I’m concerned. You can never go wrong with being honest and doing the right thing, even if it costs you a relationship, a job or a customer. If operating ethically and doing right by your team, your customer, and yourself causes you to lose one of those things, they probably weren’t worth having in the first place. A diverse group of people who can be flexible, want to grow, and have a high moral character are important to me when hiring.

Everyone has a voice, and you like and love hearing those ideas but you know the value. The value is there. I’m the same way. I’m like, “This is very valuable. Go ahead and let me have it. Lay it on me.” Andrew, what are your thoughts on that?

I’m big on the character piece. I will give anyone an opportunity regardless of their skillset or what school they went to. If I view them as a high moral character, and they are dynamic and come effective, I’m like, “I can deal with that. I can train someone. It’s not rocket science what we do,” especially in a sales role. For me, sales is all about reading the room and having good self-awareness about our clients and the meeting you are in. Those are things that I look for. I don’t look for someone that’s got 30 years of experience selling services in our business.

I look for someone that’s like, “Can you read a room? Do you have good character? Can you understand the client’s needs? Are you solutions-driven? Are you dynamic?” Those are the things that I look for. I value any day over a resume with a ton of experience or Ivy League school. Some of that stuff goes out the window when I’m looking at my people.

Do you have any specific programs or initiatives where you develop leaders? You bring people in many times that don’t have experience. Some that do but some that don’t. What’s your process for taking that person along a career path and developing them into a leader? Do you have anything formal? Is it informal?

For a long time, that was probably more informal but we are formalizing and putting some structure around that. Fullerton is a huge proponent of developing leaders from within. In the past months that I have been here, we have been promoted from within. As you know, Carrie, giving that person a promotion into a leadership role, whether it be project manager, program manager, design manager, director, whatever it may be, without the proper support, rarely works. We may think that someone is ready for a leadership role.

They may think they are ready but until they are in it, leading a team, we don’t know how they will do. Team leadership is so important. Probably more important than personal leadership because you start to realize it’s not about you anymore when you take on a team. This team is looking to you to guide them towards success.

5TT 70 | Self Performance
Self Performance: Verbalize your achievements more, especially if you’re a woman. Sometimes you can’t just wait for your work to be noticed, you need to grab that recognition.

Your question is, “How does Fullerton provide that support to currents and our potential leaders?” For our engineering team, there’s a lot of support there. Fullerton encourages our engineers to get licensed in multiple states. Fullerton will pay for classes, all fees associated with obtaining that additional licensure. This makes us more marketable. We have somebody who’s licensed in 1 of the 50 states but people move on. Things happen. People win the lottery. We don’t want to be left with a whole of not having somebody who is licensed. We encourage our engineers to take that extra education.

For managers, whether it’s on the engineering or the sci-tech side that are on a leadership path, Fullerton is always open to discussing additional education needed to support these roles and supporting that education. We are in the process of formalizing that as far as what that offering is. We have had multiple people come to me and say, “I would like to take this class on leadership presence or something.” We run it up the chain, and most often, it’s approved because we know that it’s making our folks better.

I have always been a huge supporter of trying new things and new roles. It’s painful as it is to lose strong members of your team. Fullerton doesn’t believe in holding people back. If someone on my team says to me that he or she wants to try out another role in another division, it’s sad as it might be to me but I always support that move.

Giving people more exposure to other aspects of the company and the industry only makes them more valuable to Fullerton. It’s crucial to growing their career. We do believe in empowering and supporting our people to do that. We did hire a new member of our HR team who’s committed to helping our divisions to develop that career path trajectory for our people and setting clear personal, team, and company goals. It puts this onus on not just leadership but the teams as well that have this vested interest and personal investment into Fullerton’s success.

We recognize those successes. We run them up the chain. We send Andrew all the time, “Get this out to the board.” Different successes that our teams have had specifically by name with our customers to give them exposure and access to that upper level. We think that it’s important to get them close to all of our leadership. Lastly, if we decide to put somebody in a leadership role, we are essentially saying, “We trust that person with the responsibilities that come with that role.”

I’m working with my team to empower their leaders and managers to make decisions, take chances and accept the accountability that comes with that. Give them the power to run the teams. They will always have our oversight but let’s face it. In the sci-tech and Annie world, we are not doing anything life-threatening. No decision can’t be walked back and a good lesson learned from it. If they keep making the same mistake, that’s another conversation. Empowering our leaders and giving them the right guidance is something that we are striving to implement here at Fullerton.

Any thoughts, Andrew, on developing leaders?

Kelly is the pro at it. She has been doing it for much longer than I and has a large workforce. I echo all of the sentiments, too. I will piggyback and say I like to empower people but I encourage people to try things and fail. Early in my career in managing people, I was very hands-on, and I did a lot for people, which enables people to always lean on you to do it for you. You never allow them to take that next step and fail. I learned from that. I give big presentations, pitches, and moments to my team and say, “This is yours. You’ve got the skillsets and the ability. We have worked enough. You know what we are talking about. It’s your turn to go out and try it.”

You don’t need 30+ years in sales. Sales are all about reading the room and having good self-awareness.

You are never going to succeed and be successful if you fail a couple of times. We all have. For me, it’s disempowering the people and encouraging them to fail. Failure is great. You learn from it. Echoing everything that Kelly said, for me, that’s a big thing. Although sometimes it’s hard because I like to have my spin on everything but if you are too much involved, your teams tend to become reliant on it, which is not a good thing.

Kelly, you are so successful, and you have had such an incredible career history. I want to talk about women in telecom. It’s no secret. There’s not enough of us. Companies are always wanting to attract, retain and develop leaders that are women. You are the president of a successful division. I’m curious. In a male-dominated industry, how have you grown your career and gotten to the level that you are at? Any challenges that you faced along the way as a woman and a person? Any advice that you might give to a woman who wants to follow in your footsteps in telecom?

I have had a great career. There’s no doubt about it. Thank you for those kind words. There’s no silver bullet for excelling in a male-dominated industry. I can start on answering that by saying one thing I would have done differently. I would have verbalized my achievements more. I camped out in this world of, “Put your head down. Work hard. Your hard work and merit will all be noticed.”

Sometimes that’s the case but oftentimes, especially for women, it’s not. If there’s anything I learned about myself is that sometimes, you can’t wait for your work to be noticed. You need to grab that recognition. The other thing for women is it’s hard but then reconcile with yourself that it’s okay to do that. I went for a lot of years like, “My hard work will be noticed.”

I had challenges along the way. No different than a lot of people reading this. There’s nothing special about that. I was overlooked for promotions. Credit for my work was taken by my male counterparts. Probably some unnecessary blame was put on me because I had higher expectations launched on me. Same challenges you have all faced or still facing but look, it worked for me. I sought out mentors. There are far more female mentors in our industry than there ever were. My mentors were men who not only believed in me but who believed in equality among the sexists. I was lucky.

I had a handful of good male role models and mentors. It’s a little different. The thinking in our industry isn’t quite as antiquated as it once was. It’s not perfect. There are more women in our industry than there ever have been. That’s a testament to things are changing. It has improved. The advice I would give is if you want to be an executive, whether in this industry or any industry, be professional and humble. Don’t be afraid to speak up and show what’s in your wheelhouse.

If you can maintain your reputation that is so valuable, have a good balance between humility and confidence, grabbing that recognition. Continue to improve on your experiences and performance. People will recognize you. They will recognize your value. You will have upward mobility and opportunities for advancement. My last piece of advice is a strong support system at home, especially if you are a working mom. It never hurts. Do not underestimate the value of that support system as it plays into your success.

Kelly, thank you so much for your honesty, wisdom and advice. It was brilliant. I’m sure the readers appreciated that. Let’s talk future. What trends do you see in your vertical in the services world for 2022? Any opportunities that you are working on? Anything exciting that you are seeing up ahead that you are going to take advantage of?

It’s a super exciting time for our business. Everyone reads the publications and stays in the loop on what our customers are doing. There are a lot of buzzwords and a lot going on with the spectrum auction and the different technologies as we advance. What I’m seeing in the next years is a major boom in deploying this spectrum that went through the FCC auction. We are going to see a lot of carrier activity on the tower, which is great. It lines up perfectly for Kelly’s group to be able to go out there and get these folks upgraded on towers and things like that.

We are seeing a big explosion on the fiber side, and it’s carried us through the pandemic. Fiber and everything, fiber to the home. The rural broadband space is huge with a lot of government initiatives. Folks need to be taking advantage of that, which is what Fullerton has positioned itself to do. If you are a company that can take advantage of this resource crunch, figure out how to get through that and get the people in to get these jobs done, you are going to be very successful. It’s a great challenge but we are getting opportunities because that incumbent isn’t able to deliver or doesn’t have the bandwidth.

We are stepping up to the plate saying, “Give us a shot. We do this work. We can do it.” There’s no doubt. There’s going to be a plethora of work in the next years with the technology advancement, the spectrum auction, and what’s going on with these government initiatives. There’s so much work to be had in our space, which is super exciting. If you are going to be a vendor and a supplier that takes advantage of it, you’ve got to get a little bit creative, get out of the old-school mindset, be dynamic, and utilize technology and automation in your favor to be able to deliver this stuff.

You are hiring. Where can everyone go to find out about jobs at Fullerton or maybe learn more about Fullerton?

Go to our website, FullertonEngineering.com. We constantly are updating our Careers page. You can see all the roles that we are posting for. We are always looking for a bench. Our new director of HR is the busiest she has ever been. She’s getting overloaded. We are constantly hiring, looking for roles across the country. Don’t think we are just headquartered in the Midwest. We work nationally. Through the pandemic, we have been able to expand the way that we have a remote workforce.

You can go to our website. We are getting very active on LinkedIn. You can check out all the cool things that are happening there. Our information is probably going to be shared. You can reach out to us individually. We encourage you to reach out to Kelly and me. If you’ve got questions, follow up, want to know a little bit more about the company and us, what we are doing, and the opportunities we have, I encourage that as well.

Any last words before we close?

It’s an exciting and challenging time in our industry but Fullerton is stepping up to the challenge for sure.

This has been wonderful. Thank you for coming to the show. Thank you for your transparency, honesty, and authenticity. It has been a pleasure learning even more about Fullerton.

Thank you, Carrie. Your show is amazing. You are mixing it up. I love what you are doing. Kudos to you.

Thanks so much. Take care.

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About Andrew Herring

Andrew is responsible for leading and managing Fullerton’s overall national Sales Strategy and Business Development teams, Marketing and Business Operations. Andrew has been involved with the telecommunications industry for 10 years. Andrew has held leadership roles with smaller startup firms such as NTP Wireless, served as Director of Strategic Development and was a key contributor to their recognition of Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies 4 years in a row – to large Tier 1 service providers such as KGPCo, served as Vice President of Program Development East Region. He has been instrumental in each role he has held in helping increase gross revenue, grow new divisions and diversify services and clients. His vast network of relationships has also helped him become a leader in the telecommunications industry. Andrew has extensive experience in Wireless and Wireline Deployment services along with Telecommunications Supply Chain and Product Distribution.

In addition to his duties, Andrew also participates in speaking engagements at various industry events and associations. Andrew received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Political Science from Indiana University.

About Kelly Lazuka

5TT 70 | Self PerformanceKelly has been in the wireless industry for the past 22 years. She spent 21 of those years with SAC Wireless, a Nokia company holding various positions. Kelly started out as a site acquisition specialist in 1999 and held multiple roles in the company throughout the years such as project manager, program manager, construction coordinator, troubleshooter, director and most recently Vice President. Kelly found her niche as the principal architect of SAC’s centralized concept for front end services. This new assembly line-like model brought site acquisition, A&E, scoping and close-outs under the same umbrella resulting in reduced cycle times for customers and reduced annual overhead for the company. She was also highly instrumental in creating programs geared toward employee development and retention.

In her previous role as Vice President Business Development, Kelly had been able to expand her network and develop additional front end service opportunities that she is excited to bring to Fullerton.

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