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Bob Hamilton dives into TCA programs.

TCA would need a thorough search to find a bigger booster than Bob Hamilton.

You expect some cheerleading from the president of the Tele-Communications Association, but Hamilton is a sincere believer in the organization and its mission.

How else could someone who joined TCA just five years ago have risen so quickly to lead it? As Hamilton puts it, "When I get involved in something, I jump in."

Hamilton, 43, is information technology engineer for Hewlett-Packard in Greeley, Colo. He has been IT engineer for a year and a half of his dozen years with HP, all at Greeley, the city he has called home since age 10. His job now is primarily data, in contrast to his previous assignment.

He spent the previous five years as telecomm manager for the 800-employee site. That job was a challenge for someone with a strictly data background.

Hamilton will tell you that the most valuable source of his on-the-job training was TCA. A co-worker told him about TCA, and Hamilton joined the Colorado chapter. He found the contact with other users a bonanza.

"I was a rookie;' he recalls. "TCA helped me answer a lot of the questions I had. I learned by asking questions and by listening to others' conversations."

Hamilton, who earned a mathematics degree from the University of Northern Colorado, was true to his philosophy of involvement. He quickly became active at the chapter level. Within three years he was vice president of public relations at the corporate (national) level of TCA.

From that position, Hamilton was elected president for 1992. He sees his job mainly to keep an already excellent organization strong.

TCA doesn't need change, Hamilton says, but it does depend on effective communication between officers and members. To that end, he has logged thousands of air miles and countless hours of telephone time.

"Between the chairman (Donna Kwak, the 1991 president) and myself, we want to visit every one of the 10 chapters this year. I also meet with the various committees, visit TCA headquarters in Covina, Calif., and have testified for TCA before a U.S. House subcommittee.

"For about a third of those trips, I don't have to go--I just feel that I should."

HP has been generous in accommodating Hamilton's TCA duties, he says. He has taken some vacation time and some HP time to attend association meetings. He also says he tends to come in early and stay late each day to keep up with his HP workload.

"The level of commitment is why we have only one or two people throw their hat into the ring for president each year," Hamilton explains. "Candidates have to have signed statements from their companies agreeing to allow them the time necessary for TCA work ."

Changes he has proposed as president have been minor ones, HamiltOn notes, because he believes TCA is effective as is. His belief was backed up by a mail survey of members. By overwhelming margins, members favored the status quo, rejecting such proposals as extending membership to consultants or vendors.

One plank of Hamilton's platform is education. Proudly, he points out that TCA chapters award more than $15,000 annually to telecomm students. He would like to see TCA give more publicity to such efforts.

He also helped bring about a special university booth at this year's TCA conference, Sept. 21-25, in which various schools can set up tables to promote their telecomm programs.

Also at the conference this year, there will be all-day educational sessions on Monday. They include a topic-focused seminar on telemedicine. Hamilton says he would like to see that approach continue, with new topics each year.

"I didn't really set out to change things," Hamilton says of his presidency. "I want to solidify our mission and vision. One of those missions is education."

As far as TCA growth, Hamilton says there has been interest from potential chapters in several more areas, especially the Midwest. He sees TCA walking an uneasy line between encouraging new chapters and overtly promoting them.

"I don't want a TCA ad campaign ," he says. "You can't hype someone into joining an organization. The initial excitement fades, and you wouldn't want it to die out.

"We need 25 companies that would be stable members before we will start a new chapter."

TCA definitely is interested in growth, Hamilton says. It even has structural changes in place that will be triggered by an increase to 15 chapters. Such an increase is not likely soon, says Hamilton, but may occur by the end of the decade.

At that time, chapters would be grouped into regions, with regional boards which would send representatives to .the corporate board. Now, each chapter is represented by the corporate board.

Looking ahead to this year's conference, Hamilton cites two keys to the continued success of the event. One is consistency.

"It's always in San Diego, and it's always the last week in September," he says.

The other key is the people behind the conference.

"I'm amazed that TCA can put on such a quality show with volunteers;' he says. "The membership is what makes TCA strong. People who jump in with both feet are the strength of this organization."

The strength of the show may be tested in three years when the popular Interop trade show is scheduled the same week as TCA. Hamilton is not worried.

"I wish Interop well;' he says. "But I believe if you have something that people really value, as we do, they aren't going to change. It's hard to beat a good thing."

Hamilton's enthusiasm goes for his job, his family and his church activities as well. Off the job, he is an avid follower of the scholastic sports career of his college son and daughter. He and his wife are also very active in children's activities with their church.
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Title Annotation:Column; TCA '92 Preview; Bob Hamilton, president of the Tele-Communications Association
Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Interview
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:975
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