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SETA's 10th Sets New Record for Excellence.

Celebrating under a theme of "10 Years of Excellence," members of the Southeastern Telecommunications Association turned out in record numbers at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. More than 450 people and 86 vendors helped SETA launch its second decade.

SETA President Mel Patterson (Southern Company Services) opened the annual conference with a look at something facing every communications manager: change. "Being somewhat pragmatic," he said, "change shouldn't worry us. And, quite frankly, we should not be so concerned with the shape our industry will take tomorrow as with how it performs today. I'm not saying that we shouldn't plan for, direct and anticipate the future. But I firmly believe that today, if we maintain a climate of excellence, if we maintain a climate of professionalism, then change will evolve without major disruption. In short, if we maintain a climate of excellence, then we will be in a position to manage change, instead of having change manage us."

According to Patterson, "When we talk of cost-effective services, don't think only of cutting costs. In fact, we should spend as much as 50 percent of our telecommunications man-hours on efforts to use the facilities to increase profits and productivity."

Patterson also urged SETA members to develop a career plan. "Individuals who haven't learned that an ounce of logical thought is worth more than a ton of activity usually plunge ahead, never pausing to set their course or determine their destination. They may be successful through good fortune, but their ability to get the job done--in the long term--is, at best, uncertain," Patterson said.

He also stressed the broadening of managerial interests. "For many years, people developed careers through intense specialization. An individual could expect reasonable success if he or she achieved excellence in his or her chosen field. This is still true to a degree. But if you really want to get ahead, begin to broaden your understanding of management principles. Do your best to see the total corporate picture; put yourself through the mental exercise of analyzing specific areas outside your own field of expertise."

With a 10-year milestone event, SETA members took some time to reminisce during the four-day conference. Matthew Kenny, president of Racal-Milgo, which has consistently supported SETA activities, took members down memory lane just prior to delivering his keynote address, with a slide show of photos taken at annual conferences during the first 10 years. His keynote address is featured on page 50.

During the three days that followed, some 25 concurrent sessions spanned a broad range of topics--from basic voice and basic data through negotiating contracts, cellular radio, tele-marketing, personnel management and tele-conferencing, among many others.

"Telecommunications Personnel--a Valued Resource" was addressed by Mel Dunn, dirctor of corporate telecommunications for GENESCO; Chuck Moody, AVP/telecommunications manager for Central Fidelity Bank; and consultant Richard Card of Cardco. Each described how to find, train and keep good telecom personnel, as well as how an efficient telecom department is structured.

CN Contributing Editor Roger Underwood moderated a Centrex panel that included Donald Strohmeyer of BellSouth Services and John Bray of American Telecorp, all of whom felt that "Centrex is alive and well!" Strohmeyer touched on present offerings and gave an overview of features being tested. He then noted that more decisions are being embedded into software, a trend he sees as the most-significant thing on the horizon for Centrex. Bray looked at the grwoth of digital central offices being implemented in market clusters during 1986-88. As one example, he explained that a Class 5 electronic switch with remotes is being installed by GTE to ring the Tampa area with a fiber-optic network, much like Pacific Bell did in California for the Olympics.

Among the other sessions, Bill Tallent of Nashville-based Telco Research offered excellent advice on "Practical Planning for Telecommunications." According to Tallent, "The first job of a telecommunications manager, as the CEO of that department, is to improve earnings per share." Job two is the same. He emphasized the importance of running a telecom operation just the same as any other business, with an eye on profitability and effectiveness. Planning, he stressed, is extremely important for success, but not so much that it gets in the way of getting the job done. "Be effective first, efficient second," he pointed out.

On the final afternoon, telecommunications attorney Brian Moir offered an update on regulatory developments (see story, page 52).

Among the social activities was the SETA annual dinner dance on the first evening, then Racal-Milgo hosted SETA members on Tuesday evening, bringing in Sherry to emcee the festivities, which included the Charlie Daniels Band and the Sun Country Band.

SETA has come a long way in its first decade. Its first annual conference, in October of 1976, has hosted by the North and South Carolina state associations at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Since then, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama and, this year, Mississippi, have joined.

SETA also has a full-time office in Richmond, Virginia, run by Jim and Rosemary Smith. In fact, they brought the office with them. Or, as Rosemary explained, "Our home away from home, but without the curtains." All of the office equipment, including a Fortune 3216 computer using the UNIX operating system, was brought to the conference site in Florida so that business could go on as usual.

The computer system also allowed on-site tabulation of questions asked on registration forms concerning industry involvement. Just under 49 percent of the attendees are responsible for both voice and data communications operations, while 30 percent are responsible for voice only and nearly 13 percent for data only. A third of SETA members are responsible for their organization's communications on a national basis, while 36 percent of them have responsibility in the Southeast and 36 percent for a more-local area.

During the annual business meeting at the conference, new officers were elected: President, Sam McGuire, First Citizens Bank, Columbia, South Carolina; First Vice President, Joe Cooper, NCNB National Bank, Tampa; Second Vice President, Robert Seafoss, Georgia Hospital Association, Atlanta; Secretary, Don Den Uyl, Bowater Inc., Calhoun, Tennessee; Treasurer, Jean Pittman, United Virginia Bank, Richmond; and Chairman, Mel Patterson, Southern Company Services, Birmingham.

Next year's annual conference will be held September 7 through 10 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Wiley, Don; Underwood, Roger
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1986
Previous Article:Communications Manager Is in Charge of the Rapidly Evolving Information Age.
Next Article:Forecasts for 1986: The Electronic Data Interchange Market.

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