Eric Cevis is the President of Verizon Partner Solutions, which is responsible for domestic and international wholesale strategy, including marketing, sales, customer service operations and wholesale business operations. Telecom Review recently visited with Eric to discuss Verizon and the state of our industry.

Eric is no stranger to leading large organizations. He joined Verizon in 1986 and has brought his 30+ years of sales and marketing experience into his current role. Eric has built a customer-centric organization that serves customers in over 150 countries worldwide. He has, also, won numerous awards in this industry showcasing his talents.

Partnership Matters at Verizon. Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS) is a global wholesale service provider for global voice, data and Internet network connectivity via wireline, wireless and above the network solutions with services in 2,700 cities and 150 countries across the globe. They are committed to providing a better experience, better performance and better business results as they work with their customers to deliver innovative network solutions as better does matter.

How has this focus on Partnerships shaped the impressive technology developments that have come from Verizon?

Our name, Verizon Partner Solutions, makes it clear that our focus is to drive strategic partnerships that benefit both our partners and Verizon. These partnerships take many forms.  Whether it’s continuous ideation on ways partners can leverage the various offerings (Ethernet, Wave, Internet) of Verizon to meet their strategic wireline objectives or facilitating partner discussions with our Global Products teams to evaluate ways Verizon can leverage the offerings of our partners. Verizon has made significant investments in wireless spectrum, fiber deployments and applications and platforms to support above the network opportunities like Blue Jeans video conferencing, security, our ThingSpace Platform for IoT, and LTE-Business Internet. The combination of Verizon technology together with  our robust partner communities continues to be our focus.

Finding a Work/Life Balance is important in today’s rapidly changing technology world.

The world is changing rapidly, along with customer expectations and the supporting technology. As industry competition grows every year, the need for businesses to distinguish themselves from their competitors grows with it. Businesses are expected to be easily accessible and simple to do business with around the clock. Digital transformation has the ability to improve workforce productivity, operational efficiency, and the overall customer experience. With many businesses moving their teams to work from home to continue operating during the many challenges brought on by travel and other restrictions, leaders and their teams have been faced with finding new ways to balance work and personal life.

How do you handle this need for work life balance for yourself and your employees?

For our employees, it begins with communication. Whether it’s getting feedback from our quarterly Pulse Surveys where we solicit the feedback of our employees, from Employee Resource Groups or the consistent programs and events, Verizon has emphasized the importance of work and personal life balance. For me personally, as the father of three adult children, my wife and I are intentional about our approach to finding the balance and boundaries between family and work and finding time to recharge the batteries as needed. I think the pandemic has changed leaders for the better in this area in different ways. Some of the key values are:

  • How we care for our people (Being Human) – dogs barking, kids in the background, work time on a Friday set aside to check in personally with the team (not talking about work, just real life conversations) – family ]and people first!
  • Managing stress in different ways - exercise, health walks, employee assistance programs
  • Virtual volunteering to support and serve our communities – fostering a sense of belonging
  • Communicating with empathy
  • Providing open forums for courageous conversations
  • Leading by example
  • Agility
  • Compassion
  • Consistency
  • Transparency
  • Increase resilience through reinvention
  • Using vacation time / family time

Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) has become a new defining technology for the ever-growing use of bandwidth. Low latency is becoming increasingly critical for business. Consumers and businesses alike increasingly expect as-it-happens answers, responses and experiences that feel like they are happening in real time. This emerging era of practically instantaneous information delivery should bring great things, like faster, deeper and more actionable business intelligence; advanced imaging; smarter vehicles; more efficient manufacturing; better tools for anyone from first responders to artists; and so much more. It will also leverage new kinds of network architectures.

Verizon virtualized the core of their network, and now they are virtualizing the radio access network (RAN) edge to make edge-on-demand possible.

How is Verizon leading the industry in the use of MEC?

We see MEC as an important part of our five vectors of Growth.  Movement of compute and storage resources closer to the network edge to improve latency in next generation applications presents significant opportunities in our industry.  What is exciting to me is that we’ve begun to work with our partners who support the healthcare vertical, manufacturing businesses, research and development facilities and colleges and universities about ways MEC and private 5G can be transformative for their businesses.  For Verizon, it starts with our customers and where they are in the digital transformation journey, and continues by exploring ways to leverage not only the capabilities within Verizon but also our partners.  We’re excited to be partnering with AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure in the MEC space. All of this gives us the opportunity to lead the industry in the MEC space.

Verizon continues to drive a plethora of internal diversity initiatives partnering the likes of Verizon’s Global Diversity Equity and Inclusion organization, leveraging, for example the Women’s Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE) as one of ten diverse Employee Resource Groups and relaunching training and development initiatives like the Women of the World Program, are actions to identify opportunities to move the conversation forward.

You are also the chair of the GLF Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Working Group. Besides the obvious social benefits can you tell us more about the benefits to the industry, the company, and the growth of technology?

The GLF working group released the first-ever industry Gender Imbalance white paper in June 2020.  Since then, two additional annual white papers have been released, one on Racial Equity and the other on Inclusion. GLF has been  advocating for women, people of color, and other marginalized communities through that and various other forums. The focus is how we leverage our collective ‘voice’ and choose to challenge the status quo to drive improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion both within the organizations of members and more broadly across the industry. Ensuring diversity is incredibly beneficial. Diversity creates a virtuous cycle: diverse talent attracts diverse talent; GLF members acknowledge the impact of having a diverse workforce to attract talent and reflect their customer base. The DIB group is focused on developing shared learnings, hosting panels at various events, creating mentor programs in the industry and benchmarking the status and impact of diversity initiatives in their own organizations. To retain talent, programs covering mentorship, sponsorship, workshops and role modeling are among the most highlighted requirements by interviewed GOLF members. They call for sharing best practices and creating connections between their organizations. Together, we can all do more; realizing that it is not only the right thing to do, it is also an investment to grow your business.

The “talent gap” is of concern to leaders in our industry. How are you addressing that issue at Verizon?

Within Verizon our Human Resource organization partners with our business units on an initiative we call ‘TalentWorks,’ and this partnership allows us to focus on three pillars, 1) attract talent, 2) develop talent and 3) inspire talent. It’s an acknowledged fact in businesses around the world today that improving workforce diversity, and particularly gender diversity, is a business industry imperative. For me, the importance of diversity in business is not just about the bottom line, or the benefits, or even best business practice. It’s about the culture of the organization I want to work for. I want my world of work to be one where everyone’s talents are recognized and appreciated. This is why I work for Verizon. I work for a company that has diversity at the heart of its belief system. Our credo states that we embrace diversity not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s smart business.

Digital transformation is very important for our industry. How do you see your organization continuing leadership in the area of network security?

Security is a critical piece of the digital transformation journey. Verizon has been a thought leader in cybersecurity publishing multiple annual reports like our flagship publication the data breach investigation report (DBIR). This is our 15th year publishing  the report, which leverages information from our partner ecosystem, government agencies and our own managed security services practice. We continue to drive awareness of the threat landscape as it relates to traditional assets or the emerging area of mobile & IoT security. Our goal is to continue to offer managed security with an emphasis on enabling zero trust network access and delivering security as a key component of our network as a service (NaaS) methodology.

New products and services are the lifeblood of any organization. You recently added “Blue Jeans” as a new service line for your group. How is that progressing and what is the future for this and other new services?

We are excited about the opportunities we have with Blue Jeans.  What’s most exciting is the new solutions that we are bringing to the market in this space leveraging video platforms as a service. These software development tools allow our partners to integrate video seamlessly into their product offerings for more robust customer service or overall customer engagement experiences. In addition, we are introducing new production tools via BlueJeans Studio to offer professional-grade production quality, with secure, browser-based events for up to 150,000 registered attendees. This is groundbreaking technology to disrupt the video conferencing category. I have always had a personal interest in technology and find it incredibly humbling to see these tools and other above the network products make a real impact in our partner ecosystem.

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