Editor’s note: The Broadband Report is a regular feature in WRAL TechWire.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Jean Davis has been named the new chief executive officer at MCNC. She will take over the organization that operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network on Nov. 17.

In this WRAL TechWire exclusive, we talk with the new leader on her future plans for the technology nonprofit.

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges in trying to advance NCREN?

Technology changes fast and the key will be communication with our partners and clients so that we understand their needs and can prioritize those and prepare ourselves to meet them.

  • What are the biggest opportunities created by the network?

We’ve all been reading about the “Internet of Things” where everything will be connected – from houses to medical devices to cars. That’s going to be a key trend to prepare for in the near future. One of our current and growing opportunities for the network will be in public health care and utilizing high-speed, low latency broadband to connect the underserved communities to the great health resources we have in North Carolina.

  • Will you be meeting and interacting with the North Carolina Next Generation Network as it begins to roll out? How can you work with them to help each network reach goals?

Of course, MCNC will continue to partner with all the companies involved in these projects; we’ve had great success in leveraging private and public assets to weave the network across the state. We want to help and support any and all initiatives that bring connectivity and the benefits of it to our citizens.

  • Why did you accept the MCNC CEO position?

I’ve always been fascinated by the work MCNC does and remarked that it’s an organization that gets things done with a tremendous track record for success. For example, the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative completed last year through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, which laid 2,600 miles of fiber across our state, was an unbelievable success. It was technically complex, involved a lot of collaboration between multiple sectors, and was completed on time and under budget.

Plus, the staff really won me over during the interview process; they are people who are devoted to improving research, education, public health and public safety via broadband connectivity. I’m really looking forward to being a part of this team.

  • What in your experience and background makes you qualified for the position?

My strengths are the passion I have in working and leading in a team environment, establishing a vision, and finally executing on a strategy. The MCNC Board of Directors and search committee liked that I have a varied executive management background, with technology as the thread between all of them. I’ve worked for big multinationals; I’ve been involved in successful entrepreneurial startups; ran a technology services company; and spent seven years in state government where I built relationships with key state and federal leadership and stakeholders in all 100 counties. The combination of those skills and experiences matched with the incredible technical staff at MCNC is how we’ll take the organization to it next phase of growth and success.

  • What are your immediate goals for the organization?

I begin on Nov. 17, and my first task is to get to know the staff and the customers that MCNC serves so we can work together as a team to discuss the opportunities that are ahead.

  • MCNC is on good financial footing, based on Joe Freddoso’s comments as he left the position in June. How does the financial strength help you carry out MCNC’s mission?

Absolutely, I poured over the financials before accepting the position and the board, leadership and staff really has built a solid financial base for the organization. It helps us tremendously as we move forward. And, of course, as the new leader it will be my goal to make decisions that are both bold and forward-looking while still keeping our finances strong. That’s always the balance for a CEO.

 

 

 

  • Joe set quite a record in his tenure as longest-serving CEO at MCNC. What will be biggest challenges in succeeding him?

Joe did a great job, and we are all lucky to have had his leadership at a key growth phase at MCNC. I’m in this for the long haul as well, and look forward to continuing the tradition of being action-oriented and customer-service focused while continuing the great private/public relationships we’ve built over the years. The solutions to the challenges that lie ahead require trust, collaboration and innovative thinking from all of us.