Alumni Achievers

Bill McKinnon (PhD 1997)

Teamwork, Ongoing Education are Essential Career Ingredients

Computer science alumnus Bill McKinnon With a background in math and science, Bill McKinnon was drawn first to engineering, then, after 'a chance encounter' with an undergraduate professor, to telecommunications.

The career-focusing impact of that one professor has been replicated by many individuals on McKinnon's professional work teams.

"People are the most important thing in a company," he says. And to remain valuable, McKinnon stresses the role of continued learning and enthusiasm.

The corporate culture at his first job in research and development "quickly helped me to understand how skills can become stale and obsolete. This convinced me to pursue my graduate degrees and, generally, to continue to leverage my skills and experiences into new opportunities.

"These days, we see a lot of the lower level positions being moved off shore," he says. "It's a natural progression and evolution for skills to be devalued over time. With the global economy, you have to be concerned about that."

But McKinnon cautions against "getting too wrapped up in it, especially for those coming out in their 20's. As long as they have skills, they will be marketable. He also stresses the value of teamwork, noting that the patents that include his name were the "product of the work of several people," for whom he served as team leader.

Other people were also integral in his decision to start his own business, ChanneLogics - a data-over-cable network management products company. He started it after seeing friends launch their own businesses.

The concept evolved from work he did while at the Georgia Tech, where he helped manage an interdisciplinary center focused on 'last mile' networking issues.

"In the late '90's, data-over-cable technologies were emerging as viable options," he says. "In a cable network, though, the bandwidth must be shared between dozens or hundreds of subscribers, leading me to the question of how to insure the viability of the end user's experience."

His exploration of that question led to the launch of ChanneLogics in 2000. Within a few years, the board of directors decided it was time to sell.

"Based on the vision of the board, and where the technology was headed, we felt that having a banner like 'Scientific-Atlanta' on the product would be the best way to promote the technology to its fullest and also garner the greatest return on the investments that were made in the company." The company was sold to Scientific Atlanta in 2003, and McKinnon is now evaluating new opportunities

- posted 2004 - Anna Rzewnicki -

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