For the third straight year, the training organization CET Networking Education (www.cetweb.com) has honored Dave Sanders, RCDD/NTS/OSP Specialist, for his impact on the telecommunications industry.
Having won the organization’s “RCDD International Instructor of the Year” for 2003 and 2004, Sanders was honored most recently as the 2005 “Speaker of the Year.” Sanders has taught several hundred of the approximately 7,000 professionals who hold the Registered Communication Distribution Designer designation, and has seen his students achieve a high pass rate on the RCDD exam.
“Dave is a people-developer, not just in work, but in life,” said CET founder Mike Cox when announcing the award. “He goes way beyond telecommunications. He cares about people, not just products.”
That notion was underscored when Cabling Installation & Maintenance interviewed Sanders leading up to the presentation of his award, which took place at BICSI’s Winter Conference in late January. Just as evident was his desire to imbue into his students a high level of professionalism, and his unfailing ability to see the positive in a situation, an individual, or an industry.
“Our industry is unique from any other,” says Sanders. “It drives what our future is going to look like. If people are in it only for financial reasons, it is not going to reach the level of professionalism that it needs. And that doesn’t apply only to the large companies. Being more professional in your work is something that can separate you from so many others in your trade.”
Sanders’ resume indicates he is well qualified to talk about the cabling industry and its level of professionalism, on several fronts. A former Navy SEAL who was introduced to fiber optics during his days in the military, he began work as a fiber-optic splicer after leaving the service. He later moved to a position with a cabling distributor, and since 2001 has worked at Leviton (www.levitonvoicedata.com), where today he is director of voice and data sales.
As a professor at the University of California Davis Extension, he taught the course “Mastering Network Hardware: Cabling Systems,” which he says exposed him to a great breadth of industry personnel. “Contractors, end users, young professionals going after their Cisco certification-I met many people in the UC Davis classroom,” he recalls. “I once had 30 engineers from Disneyland as students who were preparing for a significant system upgrade at the park.”
Contradicting what many expect from a presentation delivered by someone with the title “director of sales,” Sanders says he doesn’t insert product or company pitches into his talks. “By believing in people, you’ll cross the finish line more than if you were chasing a contract,” he says of his approach.
He took every opportunity, though, to give kudos to his company, as well as CET and to BICSI (www.bicsi.org) for their collective efforts to raise the level of professionalism in the cabling industry. “The industry is product-driven,” he says. “Leviton is people- and industry-driven.” He credits Leviton and CET for “going out of their way” to ensure he continues to bring his commercial-free message to the industry. “Leviton, CET, and BICSI want to raise the industry’s professionalism. They have provided an example, established a road map to do things right and enjoy the business that we are in.”
Sanders remarks that the cabling industry as a whole would do well to emulate the electrical-contracting industry. “The electrical industry has a history of pride, seriousness, and work ethic,” he says. “We haven’t evolved enough for that to be contagious on the telecom side, and those characteristics are vital for this industry to move forward. We need to listen to the past success of the electrical industry for the telecommunications industry to succeed.”
None of this philosophy is meant to deride those in the cabling industry; rather, as one detects from a conversation with Sanders, he always seeks to advance an issue, cause, industry, or especially a person to the next level. “When I stand in front of people, look them in the eyes and say, ‘This is my life’s work,’ the passion comes naturally for me,” Sanders explains. “And when I get in front of a crowd, especially a crowd of contractors, and I can get them motivated to learn good business practices … if I can touch 50 out of 500, things are going to change.”
For the better, no doubt.-Patrick McLaughlin