Position: President, service assurance for broadband at Spirent Communications Inc., a communications technology company in Rockville that provides hardware and software to test and manage network technologies such as broadband services, Internet phone service, advanced wireless and Web applications.
Career Highlights: Before Spirent, Burns had been at Tellabs Inc. for about 17 years, joining the company after college. At Tellabs, he had worked in various engineering and executive sales management positions including most recently as senior vice president, global marketing, strategy and business development; senior vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa; vice president and general manager, competitive service provider sales; regional sales director, global broadband access; and district director of sales, Verizon account.
Education: AS, telecommunications engineering, Pennsylvania State University; BS, business administration with a focus in engineering, College Misericordia; MBA, Temple University.
Personal: Lives in Gaithersburg with wife, Denise, and their son, Corey, 7.
How did you get to where you are?
I started my career in sales with Tellabs, a telecommunications equipment manufacturer. My focus has always been as a business leader despite starting in sales. My strength has really been in understanding the customer's business and what was really important to them when selling them products and services and how our products and services fit into those customer needs. That gave me a really good understanding of their business, which allowed us as a company to meet their needs. My sales career led to a more complex, higher level of sales management and then to overall general management.
The biggest challenge in my career has been moving to new roles, new markets and adapting to new environments. I think the willingness to relocate and excel in different areas -- moving from leading the sales team with the Verizon account to focus on the cable industry, and then on to the competitive service provider market and ultimately to lead Tellabs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa team based outside London -- was important. The idea is to be open-minded and flexible and not to approach things with a bias; to learn from your surroundings and folks who know the industry or market and apply past experience to that market.
Overall, the telecom industry has been a huge learning experience for anybody involved from the highs of the mid- to late 1990s to the lows of just a few years ago. Anyone involved with it at that stage -- from the euphoria of the boom to the drop in revenue -- it was a huge learning experience. Now, we've seen the telecom industry come back and with an increased focus on new IP [Internet protocol] technology and globalization by many of the players, including Spirent. I joined Spirent because their focus has really been around the IP technology and globalization, two areas [in which] I've got extensive experience. I think Tellabs is a great company and my decision to leave was to get experience outside of Tellabs and to join Spirent. They are focused in the right technology areas and they were looking for a leader to not only grow their business inside North America, but also in Europe and Asia.
-- Judith Mbuya