|Featured Client: Tony Zielinski, Director of IT, Alaska Communications Systems|
TT: How and when did you get involved in telecom?
TZ: I started back in 1983 as a teleco central office switching specialist when I was in the Air Force, assigned to Alaska. After about four years I went back to my home state of Pennsylvania and worked as a customer premise equipment installer. I worked in several other telecom jobs in Oklahoma and then took an IT job in Denver. In 2006 I moved back to Alaska and sought out a job with Alaska Communications, where I am now the Director of Information Technology.
TT: What areas do you oversee in your current role?
TZ: I am the IT director for our wireless, wireline and broadband businesses and have responsibility for 55 people who work on our billing systems, web front end, inter-office systems, and an upgrade to our ACD phone system that we are working on with Alliance.
TT: What do you this is the most important issue our industry is facing?
TZ: I really think it is twofold. The first is how companies can stay competitive in a price war market, when we are all competing on price. The second is converting from a wireline industry to a wireless / broadband industry without losing market share.
TT: What do you enjoy about living in Alaska?
TZ: I like having the ability to go north, south, east or west for an hour and still be completely isolated, plus the sheer magnitude of Alaska and all it has to offer. It is really something you can't explain. You either love living here or you hate it. In the summer we have 20 hours of sunlight and you can play as hard as you have energy for. There is so much opportunity outdoors: fishing, photography, mountain climbing. This time of year you have to be OK with cold. The high temperature today was negative 12 degrees and last night it hit negative twenty three with less than eight hours of daylight.
TT: You recently completed the Polar Bear Plunge. Tell us about the experience.
TZ: It was a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. A team of us from Alaska Communications collected pledges to jump into the water in Seward. It was the first time I did it and it was COLD! The outside temperature was as low as negative six degrees and they had to break ice for us to jump in. I was in the water for about 10 seconds and the hard part was getting back out of the water into the cold air. I took a warm shower to get rid of the shakes and I was close to normal about an hour later. Our team raised about $3300 and we were the #9 fundraising team out of 164 teams.
TT: What hobbies do you pursue in your free time?
TZ: I love Alaska and all it has to offer. I spend my summers fishing and boating. Last year I took a 1200-mile boat ride on the Yukon River to hunt for moose. In the winter I snow shoe and support the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.
TT: What do you like best about working with Alliance?
TZ: Working with Richard and the team has always been top notch. Alliance has a great ability to obtain A++ quality people in a short amount of time. Alliance also stands behind all they sell and support.