Our People in Action – Program Director

Laura Cockeram and her husband


Get to know Laura Cockeram, a Program Director on our Professional Services team, supporting fiber, wireless, and data center projects in California, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona. She shares how she arrived at this point in her career in telecom and and what it takes to help Network Connex customers be successful.

How long have you been with Network Connex?

I have been with Network Connex (formerly Synergy Engineering then Advantage Engineers) for 14 years. I’ve been working in the industry for 17 years.

Tell us about your career path and what led you to your current role?

I was a financial institution manager for ten years and after taking a break to stay home with my kids a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in trying something new since there was an opportunity with his employer. I started my journey in telecom as a part time employee and transitioned to full time and worked my way up. That was the beginning of my career in telecom. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things and being challenged. My capabilities were recognized, and I was continually given more responsibility and that advanced my career. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the growth of our company from early on and I’m extremely grateful for a company that provides such great opportunities to employees.

What kinds of education or training have helped you be successful in your current job?

Everything I have learned and experienced on my telecom journey from my mentors and clients, my previous finance background, and the support I’ve had from colleagues, has helped me develop into my current role as a Director. My manager has always indulged my curiosity and taken the time to answer questions to teach me something new and at each stage of my development I acquired new skills to be successful:

  • Understanding the project’s scope of work, goals and deadlines are critical.
  • My experience in financial institutions instilled the importance of being detail oriented and organized for compliance with regulatory audits.
  • Communicating effectively and meeting client expectations is important. We need to earn trust from clients, so they are confident we can successfully manage their projects.
Laura quote on earning customers' repeat business

What characteristics do you think are needed to be successful in your role?

In my view you need a variety of characteristics to be a successful Director:

  • Strong communication skills—It’s critical to analyze the goals and requirements for a client and project and be able to clearly convey that to my team. I also want my team members to feel supported and comfortable reaching out to me.
  • Financial acumen—It’s important to understand the financial aspect of projects so we deliver for our clients within budget.
  • Leadership skills—As I’ve grown with the company, I’ve shared skills and experience I’ve acquired with my team. Leadership, training, and mentoring are important to keep our business progressing.
  • Recognizing and championing talent—I try to encourage and open paths for dedicated, knowledgeable, and hard-working employees to have opportunities for growth in our business.
  • Willingness to learn new things—As the industry evolves, we must be ready and eager to expand our knowledge so we can keep up with the changes.
  • Understanding the skillset and experience of each Project Manager—This is important so I can successfully pair Project Managers with clients and projects.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

My day starts out with a quick check in on Sitetracker and NetSuite to get a snapshot of projects. Then I turn my attention to emails received; I use a stacking method that allows me to quickly prioritize emails that need action to ensure timely responses. I set aside dedicated time each week to meet with my Project Managers individually giving each of them my undivided attention, outside of project or procedure meetings, for training, troubleshooting, finance support, or celebrating success. The middle of my day varies day to day. There’s usually a project that is either high priority or fast moving so my attention will be pulled there for extra support, strategizing, or troubleshooting.

For new clients, I join early deployment calls to make sure we are managing their project to their satisfaction. This helps me support the Project Managers by understanding firsthand what the client’s expectations are and ensure we are set up to meet their needs. I also want the clients to be comfortable reaching out to me directly even if I’m not the person they deal with on a day-to-day basis. I am usually in communication with my VP, other Directors, or Program Managers to sync up on projects and workloads with other departments so I can communicate that to Project Managers and forecast resource availability accurately. This ensures timeline expectations for tasks or deliverables are understood by all. It also allows me to re-prioritize based on project urgency and client deadlines, so every client’s project has forward momentum, hits milestones, and receives deliverables on time.

What do you love most about what you do?

My favorite part of my job is the variety. The variety of work, and even challenges that arise, keep me on my toes and there’s never a dull day. Our group is full of motivated and hard-working individuals who support each other. I’ve had wonderful mentors on my journey and prioritize giving that same level of support to my team.

Laura Cockeram and her husband enjoying an LA Kings game

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

My family are big hockey fans, so we spend a lot of time at Crypto Arena for Los Angeles Kings games. I also like attending concerts, snowboarding, and hiking. Spending time with family is also very important to me. I’ve recently taken up gardening so I’m trying to keep fruits and veggies alive. It’s too soon to tell if my garden is a success but it’s looking pretty good so far.

Tell us a fun or surprising fact about you!

We have season seats for the Los Angeles Kings and were lucky enough to see them win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014 on home ice. It was amazing! My husband and I are embarking on an NHL stadium tour to watch the Kings play on the road. It will take several years to visit all the NHL arenas, but we’ve knocked 6 off the list. So far Bridgestone Arena in Nashville has been my favorite.