This month’s insights from our leaders around the world come from Jason Caliento, Executive Vice President of Network Strategy for Mobilitie. He is responsible for planning, designing, building and operating telecommunications infrastructure in new, innovative and compelling ways. Previously, he served in executive roles at SAC Wireless, Crown Castle and AT&T.
What’s the most important development happening in our industry and what does that mean for business?
Since 2015, Mobilitie has built thousands of 4G LTE small cells, tri-band macro networks, and hundreds of neutral host DAS systems. Today we’re working on 5G Open RAN, millimeter wave small cells and DAS nodes, Wi-Fi6, CBRS private networks and a massive fiber build. In the US in 2020/2021, more wireless spectrum was released for 5G and Wi-Fi than any time in our history.
I’m providing that context, because it demonstrates that the most important developments aren’t the latest tech stack, spectrum, merger or acquisition. Rather, in a rapidly changing and complex environment, the most important developments are thematic to our business:
- mobile devices, networks and applications continue to grow in ubiquity and complexity;
- smart infrastructure, creative solutions, and talented people are needed to fund, design, deploy and operate in that complex environment; and
- a growing group of enterprises and stakeholders are seeking wireless solutions to unlock value and solve problems.
In the next year, we’ll see those themes manifest with MNO mid-band deployments on macro sites and small cells, increasing investment in Open RAN around the globe, massive fiber deployments, a renewed focus on in-building systems, and meaningful fix wireless deployments. We will see significant enterprise investment in private networks providing supplemental coverage, capacity, security, and edge compute capabilities that solve enterprise-specific issues or create new ways to monetize a network.
What inspires you most in the work that you do?
Following the themes above, the rate of change and evolution in our business is never-ending, and the companies and teams that embrace that pace and capitalize on it, win. I’m consistently inspired by the leaders and team members who build our capabilities to run fast and hard in that complex and competitive market.
We’ve been giving tours recently of our network build at LA Live and the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles (home of the LA Lakers). Behind the size and the scale and complexity of that network, all of which is very impressive, you see the people that are running it, and it’s an amazing cross section of our organization: business development, solutions, deployment, operations, procurement, finance, IT, HR, asset management. It’s an inspiring team win, and certainly creates the desire to go create more opportunities to differentiate our teams and our company.
What is a technique you use to be more effective in your work?
I’m a big believer in mindsets, and specifically, positive, action-oriented mindsets. With customers, do we know what’s important to them, do we know how we can help? With projects, what’s the next set of concrete steps? With negotiations, how do we create a win-win? With teams, what does the team need to get to the next step or level? The list goes on, but if is proactive, and positive, it’s a great place to start.
I’m also a big believer in an analog calendar to look at the entire quarter and year for planning, a short priority list for every day, and reserving time in the day to focus. We all have those meetings and tasks we must attend, but I also try to make sure I can drive my agenda forward every day.
What’s one of the ongoing challenges you face at work and how do you manage it?
One consistent challenge is ensuring that we are focused on the right opportunities and pursuits, “in” all the conversations that matter in our market and avoiding shiny object distractions. Conversely, it’s also important to stay in conversations for the long term because some of those shiny objects can be very valuable.
In our venue business, we manage this with very clear opportunity assignments and a robust set of crowd-sourced data on RF performance. It allows our teams to readily identify venues that meet our criteria for pursuits as well as what MNO’s have demand for those venues. We have some exciting retooling underway for this market intelligence function, which will yield significantly more actionable intelligence for our teams.
Shiny objects will persist but the more efficiently we can identify and vet the valuable ones, the more beneficial to the the focus of our teams.
What is your advice for proactively managing your career?
Start with a positive and proactive mindset. Build solid foundational skills such as communication, negotiation, project management, P&L management, working as part of a team, leading teams. Develop these to the point that people seek out opportunities to work with you. Top it with life-long curiosity and the ability to learn and master new subject matters in your chosen field. Develop this to the point that you’re considered an expert. Use those things to create measurable value for your team and your investors. Measurable value comes in a lot of forms, but make sure you know how you impact the bottom line at the end of the day. Repeat.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career and why?
My father was an entrepreneur throughout his career, so from a young age I had a front row seat to the highs and lows of business ventures and leadership. “Big Lew” has a mantra of teamwork, pride, and professionalism in business which he applies with a big heart and a wonderful sense of humor. He’s 79, and still brings it every day as a consultant, a leader in a not-for-profit, and as a father and grandfather.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m pretty handy. I enjoy doing electrical work, carpentry, landscaping. I can swing a hammer, but I’m trying to get better at finish carpentry. I lean a lot on YouTube videos, and I tend to be very cautious and very slow, but I keep a positive mindset.