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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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.