Employee Spotlight – Robert Strickland

Introducing the newest member of our business development team, Robert Strickland. Bobby joined Lepton Global Solutions as Director of Satellite Engineering during the summer of 2017. His rich background in SATCOM and Government brings valuable experience to the Lepton team. With Robert’s expertise, we look forward to making a splash in the DISA and GSA task order arena and expanding our customer base in 2018.

Bobby, what is your previous experience in the SATCOM industry before joining Lepton?

Bobby: I started my career in the U.S. Air Force in 1977 as a flight simulator technician, and later cross-trained into military SATCOM as a Space Communications Systems Specialist. After I left the military, I continued in the satellite communications path and held a variety of jobs, including as a Systems Engineering and Technical Assistant consultant working with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). While employed there, I was on the other side of the aisle, formulating specifications for satellite communications proposals, evaluating proposals, and managing the task orders after they were awarded.  I also worked directly with military and government agencies, defining their needs, and developing the proposal documents for the procurement process. Since joining the private sector, I have worked on both the operator and service provider side.

Lepton Global is a relatively new player in this industry, competing alongside big names like Intelsat, DRS, Ultisat, and others. What surprised you about our company?

Bobby: I hadn’t heard a lot about the company before applying for the position. When I started my research, I found that Lepton was highly focused on providing turnkey services. I was surprised to find out that such a relatively new small business had a functional global satellite network in place, and was capable of easily adding new customers into their existing networks. Now that I am a part of the team, I understand what makes Lepton Global successful. We work together as a team and use a variety of tools and resources to provide world-class service.

Why Lepton Global?

Bobby: I’ve found my happy medium here at Lepton. Half of my responsibilities are business development and proposals, and the other half are satellite engineering. While Lepton has earned a well-deserved spot on the major satellite communications IDIQ contracts, including GSA IT Schedule 70 and CS3 (Complex SATCOM Solutions), there are still a lot more sales opportunities within other government agencies. My job is to identify and develop customized satellite solutions for all government agencies.

For us to provide customers with a proposal, we have to assess their needs and gauge available market capabilities. Using my satellite engineering knowledge, I evaluate the performance of various technologies that exist on the market to understand current trends and future advancements in SATCOM. Working in the industry for many years, I have developed relationships with many satellite communications integrators. One of the advantages of working for Lepton is that we stay agnostic when choosing satellite equipment. Our goal is to provide customers with the best performance equipment at the best possible price, regardless of who makes it. Part of my work is to link VSAT innovators with this pioneering small business to provide global, reliable, and flexible communications solutions to support our customers’ missions.

You have a lot of experience in the industry. What is the biggest perk or benefit you have found working here?

Bobby: Lepton is new in the COMSATCOM space, and I have the opportunity to contribute to our growth in different areas. In a small company, you can’t have just one job, and that fits my personality very well. In addition to working business development and satellite engineering, I also have duties as one of the facility security officers. Every day is an exciting new challenge – one day I’m doing proposals, the next putting VSATs together, the next focusing on security issues.

From the list of your past achievements, what skills are you able to utilize at Lepton?

Bobby: When I worked for Orbital Sciences, I was a flight operations director on three satellite launches. I directed satellite operations from the satellite launch up to customer acceptance. It helped me understand how things work on that side of the industry. I can now put together solutions for our customers and identify how to leverage satellite capabilities to offer maximum benefits based on my knowledge of how satellite operators work and where efficiencies can be gained. I’ve also worked in the procurement directorate for DISA, where I was a member of the Technical Evaluation Boards (TEB) on more than 250 proposals. This is very beneficial experience as a member of the proposal team at Lepton. I understand how the government will evaluate our proposals, and how to customize our offerings to provide unique benefits that our government customers will appreciate.

Are there any skills that you would like to master that you think will help you become better at your role?

Bobby: I recently got my Facility Security Officer (FSO) certification and am focusing more on the security aspects of COMSATCOM. The government is putting a lot more emphasis on physical and cyber security, and we have to make sure our systems are fully compliant with the government’s security needs. One of our recent projects was ensuring DFARS Compliance with NIST SP 800-171 as an IT services provider.

Coming from a different state, what is the most significant change you have noticed living in DC/Virginia area?

Bobby: This is the third time I’ve lived in Northern Virginia, and when we returned to it in 2013, the areas where I lived before had turned from a pasture into the city with roads and tall buildings. We ended up moving farther out into Loudoun County to get away from the development, but it’s slowly catching up to us.

Do you participate in any clubs or organizations outside of work?

Bobby: I am a part of the RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) network, a nationwide volunteer operators network that provides emergency radio communications in times of emergency. I operate a HAM radio station (call sign KM4NPP) primarily on 10m, 2m, and 70cm. I’m also studying to upgrade to a general class license so that I can operate on additional frequencies.

Do you have any unique talents?

Bobby: I am good at repairing electronics; as a hobby, I repair and rebuild vintage radios and tube amplifiers. Many musicians value good quality, old-school technology. I get broken equipment, fix it, and then sell it to local musicians. Getting tubes for these old amps used to be a real problem, but now we are getting very good quality tubes from Ukraine and China, and I can bring these old school amps back to life.

Thank you, Bobby, for the interview! We welcome you to our team and looking forward learning from your broad SATCOM experience.

What Makes Our Customer Support Special? The Lepton NOC

Around the Clock Service

In today’s global economy, you can buy a printer, request food delivery, or have a credit card issued at literally any time, day or night. And you will often find a customer service representative available to help regardless of the hour. For any company to operate successfully on a global scale, the around-the-clock technical support team is a necessity. The same is, of course, true for satellite communications companies like Lepton, which is why we operate our Network Operation Center (NOC) 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Going Beyond 24×7

What does the NOC mean to us at Lepton? Perhaps second to our website, the NOC is among our most visible customer-facing assets. We hold our technicians to high standards of professionalism, technical capability, and concern for the quality of our services. Having personnel to cover a 24×7 NOC requirement is de rigueur, but we also require that each member of our team be attentive, personable, and knowledgeable about the breadth of antenna systems that our customers operate. We also encourage our staff to grow and improve; we invest in our team by providing training and certification courses to ensure competency and familiarity with various types of satellite equipment and networking platforms. Because we take an agnostic approach when selecting equipment for customer solutions – focused on their needs rather than our manufacturer alliances – our technicians must be well-prepared to service a variety of VSAT manufacturer models and form factors.

Our NOC staff truly work as a team, and each member is invested in supporting their teammates and our customers to ensure operations are successful. Being a NOC technician is not shift work at Lepton, it is a lifestyle. Our customers are looking for someone on the other end of the line who cares, listens, and really wants to solve their issues. Our technicians use a personable approach with customers; they become trusted guides in all things satellite, even beyond our service. It is not uncommon for customers to call Lepton technicians on their cell phones with questions unrelated to the service Lepton provides because they know they will receive a helpful and urgent response.

Leading with Action

At Lepton, we believe in preventing, not reacting to problems. Our strategy involves proactive network monitoring tools that keep the Lepton NOC team one step ahead of potential issues, such as weather, modem temperature, or something as simple as an Ethernet cable being unplugged. This proactive approach, as compared to the conventional reactive nature of most technical support centers not only saves Lepton and our customers money, but it reduces downtime, conserves hardware, and fosters a relationship of trust between the NOC staff and the end-user in the field. When our customers call with an issue, we are already working to resolve it.

Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) software is tightly integrated into our suite of NOC tools. Lepton has partnered with industry leading software including iDirect iMonitor® and SolarWinds® to ensure continuous oversight of our satellite network nodes. We have also outfitted our NOC engineers with the latest in radio frequency (RF) monitoring equipment, and our networking infrastructure has fully redundant power and Internet access. The robustness of our NOC ensures our NOC team will be in touch with our customers regardless of conditions.

For a service-oriented small business, it is essential to take a 21st-century approach to customer service. Lepton does so by providing high-quality, 24x7x365 customer support, by investing in our people, and by employing the latest technologies to offer proactive support.

Visit our Technical Support page to learn more about the Lepton NOC.