Host Team: Mitchell Bifeld, Nicole Lee, Rohit Narayanan, Jason Nie, Nicholas Orr, Max Sauers, Alex Uken, Marvin Zou, Nithya Kalwala
September 18, 2020
Lyle Paczkowski, a Senior Technology Strategist at T-Mobile, came in on September 11th, 2020 and was able to discuss with the T&M seminar with his experience in the telecommunications industry.
T-Mobile started out as a subsidiary of Western Wireless Corporation and was purchased by Deutsche Telekom AG and renamed to T-Mobile. They initially provided wireless personal communication services (PCS) in the western and southwestern states. T-Mobile went through many acquisitions early on and after acquiring SunCom Wireless Holdings, the company finally possessed a network across all major metropolitan areas in the United States solidifying it as a nationwide wireless carrier. Being a competitor in the telecommunication industry, T-Mobile was able to provide reliable networks to allow its customers to send and receive texts, calls, and other forms of communication. In 2011, AT&T attempted to merge with T-Mobile, however it was unsuccessful due to antitrust issues ultimately still allowing competition in the telecommunication industry. Even after the failed merger, T-Mobile later acquired MetroPCS and merged with Sprint. Through the years, they have still shown to be a key player in the market as the “un-carrier”, a campaign that centers around customer commitment and flexibility while providing low costs.
Lyle Paczkowski’s life has gone in a direction he probably never expected to take. Following high school, Paczkowski enlisted into the US Army to serve during the Vietnam War. He credits his time in the Army for teaching him how to work with other people, especially those who are disinterested in their job, a skill that he still uses today. Instead of going back to work on his family’s farm, Paczkowski instead received a bachelor’s degree in economics from North Dakota State University and spent twenty years with a construction equipment firm in that same state. During his thirteen years at the firm, he oversaw the creation of new product lines, order systems, as well as distribution strategies. Having gained significant experience in project management, he would spend the next twenty-one years with Sprint, working in the IT division of the company. Around 2007, Paczkowski transitioned into product development, where he has been since and is now T-Mobile’s Senior Technology Strategist. Throughout his career, Paczkowski has been awarded 181 patents with 77 still pending. Some highlights include new types of RFID chips that replace barcodes, a system that extends a company’s phone network to easily include cell phones, as well as the technology that would go on to become the backbone of Google Voice. Due to his significant experience in the field, Paczkowski is invited to speak at conferences on subjects including network security, enterprise application development, and promising new technologies such as Blockchain and Hyperledgers.
During the time we spent with Lyle both outside class and during his presentation, he was able to share multiple pieces of advice that he has learned from his many years of experience. One that stuck with us was that college is sometimes less about the academics and careers and often more about the experiences you are able to go through. When you find a career path, although having academic knowledge is very important, there are still things you can pick up and learn without having academic experience. For instance, although Lyle had no academic training with filing patents, it turned into one of his biggest skill sets. Moreover, another one of Lyle’s pieces of advice that he emphasized was to never assume that you know everything and to always try to learn and write things down. With modern technology such as social media and artificial intelligence, there is an endless possibility of innovation that is available for us to figure out, and Lyle highlighted how striving to learn more and pushing yourself can help you to advance your career at a faster pace. To conclude, Mr. Paczkowski gave us an insider’s look into many aspects of his career, T-Mobile, and the telecommunications industry at large. He urged us to explore the new technologies that would be important in the future, and gave us an answer to the most important question: Why should we care? With this answered, we were able to gain a holistic view into possible careers to pursue and what purpose we could derive from them. Mr. Paczkowski stressed upon the importance of habit, and that is a significant takeaway for most of us. Our team has gained valuable experience and comfort from the impactful mentorship he provided us during our host week. He most memorably interviewed us and gave us individual advice during our informational interview, leaving a personal impact upon each and every one of us. An implicit lesson we have learned is how to engage a group of people. Although we were conducting the interview, Mr. Paczkowski carried the flow of our conversation because of his grasp on conversation and ability to capture attention! We hope that we can be future leaders that can give back the value he generated for us.