An “Everyday Hero” In the Most Surprising of Places

Paul H. Mauritz
President, CEO

Imagine the most challenging geography in which to implement an IT network transformation. You might picture a barren landscape composed of near-impenetrable rock that needs to be dynamited to accommodate cables.

But why stop there? Add extra-long winters consisting of blinding snowstorms and unimaginably cold temperatures. Now, populate this landscape sparsely with small, isolated communities. Sure, the citizens are hungry for technological advancement, but you can only get to them by air, boat, or dogsled. Flights are infrequent — and once you get there, there’s a good chance the weather will pin you in for two or three times the length you planned to be there.

Sounds like the stuff of an exaggerated training exercise. But it’s not. It’s Greenland. This arctic sub-continent, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, presented just such a design challenge to NetCraftsmen. Fortunately, we had a standout craftsman at the helm, Business Architect Denise Donohue.

Denise was recently featured as an “Everyday Hero” as part of Cisco’s Empowered Women’s Network — and rightly so. Her success in Greenland exemplifies her matter-of-fact leadership on even the most challenging initiatives. And while there’s a tendency for IT and telecom to fall into the “old boy network” category, Denise was unintimidated. As clients and co-workers can attest, she simply let her effectiveness and expertise speak for themselves.

A Surprising Path

Interestingly enough, Denise came by this expertise in an atypical way. She began her professional life as an economist — working to change the way the Consumer Price Index was calculated, to make it more statistically accurate. She stepped away from economics and into the demands of family life, raising three children. But even in the midst of parenthood, her intellectual curiosity needed an outlet.

As Denise explains it, she began “tinkering with home computers,” and started teaching herself about programming and networking. That evolved into a home-based business bringing computers to schools and childcare centers, and when she was ready to return to the work force full time, her love of economics had taken a back seat to her new passion. She co-founded an IT company, gaining valuable technical and business experience, then moved on to working with larger enterprises.

Throughout her career, Denise has been relentless in her pursuit of professional credentials, certifications, and publications. She has authored more than a dozen books (available via Cisco Press), demonstrating the kind of disregard for fatigue that only a mother of three must understand.

Her book “The Art of Network Architecture – Business-Driven Design,” was, in fact, one reason why NetCraftsmen began to work with Greenland’s TelePost. When the country’s CIO read the book, he realized that he wanted Denise on the network transformation team. She would be a person critical to driving an intelligent effort to move Greenland’s technology forward.

An implementation of that size would be challenging for any craftsman, but Greenland throws more than a few curve balls. The weather and geography, as mentioned, make things tough. The widely-scattered population adds another constraint, creating the need for large-enterprise thinking applied to what amounted to a host of smaller-scale answers. As Denise told me, Greenland proved to be the quintessential example of out-of-the-box thinking. If the traditional way to provide Internet to a community is via DSL — but running that to a small, isolated village is prohibitively expensive — village-wide mobile broadband suddenly makes more sense.

For Denise and her team — as with any Craftsman — innovation overrules intimidation. That’s the kind of creativity a Craftsman comes up with, delivering results that work for an entire country no matter how long the winter lasts.

For more information about Denise, click here.

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