Why did you choose to study computer science?
I chose CU Boulder because of its strong reputation in telecommunications. I have always had a passion in technology and received a bachelor’s degree in Arts & Science from the University of Nebraska majoring in computer science and human factors. I earned an MS in telecommunications engineering from CU Boulder in 1993 with distinction. I continued to work as a software developer while I studied for my master's.
What life lessons did you learn during your time at CU?
I have been privileged and fortunate to have had a 25+ year career in an industry I love, and a career which has taken me internationally and through which I have contributed to building world class telecommunication networks spanning North America, Europe and Asia. I gained important life skills during my master's at CU Boulder — the importance of life-long-learning, the value of learning from failures and the strength of a diverse team. These lessons gave me a strong foundation to access global opportunities.
Tell us about your career path.
Over my 25 years in the telecoms industry, I have been fortunate to deploy critical submarine and terrestrial networks throughout the world for carriers such as Verizon, Level 3 Communications, PCCW in Hong Kong, Telstra in Australia, and Tata Communications in Singapore. I returned to Boulder with Zayo Communications to lead the technology, engineering and capacity planning for Zayo's global network.
What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining?
My significant career achievements include the design and installation of one of the world's first private protected fiber rings; the first optical interface onto the public internet at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories; and the design and engineering of more than 50 data centers and cable landing stations around the world.
What is your favorite part of that role?
I’m very excited to have reached a stage of my career where I can give back to the community which has given me so much personally. I serve on the advisory board of the (College of Engineering and Applied Science), and I’ve also recently engaged as a mentor for a Boulder-based company (Unreasonable Group), which has the goal to support growth-stage entrepreneurs to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. I love mentoring young people and sharing life experiences that they may find relevant as they pursue their own passions.
Are there any “words to live by,” credo or top values that you follow?
My top values are family, community and pursuing purpose. After working abroad (based out of Hong Kong, Taiwan and London) for most of my career, I relocated back to Boulder with the loves of my life, my wife, Edlyn, and our 12-year-old daughter Joyanne. Edlyn is an accomplished lawyer/corporate executive who I met in Hong Kong. Joyanne was born in Hong Kong and attended schools in HK, Taipei and London. We moved from London to Boulder to be closer to our extended family in the U.s. and to pursue opportunities which enable me and my wife to apply our international experiences and contribute to a community which is now our home. I believe that if you live life with purpose, the rest will follow.
Photo at left: Michael at his master's graduation in 1993.