Kristin Oelke, vice president of marketing and communications for Oceus Networks, has a passion for bringing customers the best products. It’s a passion she conveys to her federal clients as she works to build Oceus Network’s reputation. GovCon Executive spoke with Oelke about her career, the birth of Oceus and where the new company is going.
GovCon Executive: Tell me a little bit about your background. What brought you to Oceus Networks?
Kristin Oelke: It was the amazing opportunity to be part of launching a new company. Doug Smith, the president and CEO, had a unique vision for a government broadband solutions company. To be able to be a part of that and then, from a marketing perspective, to be able to lead a team to develop the new brand is incredibly exciting. I was thrilled when they called me with the opportunity. Prior to Oceus Networks, we were Ericsson Federal, and that’s where I joined. Prior to that, I was with Sun Microsystems for more than a decade working in its federal and commercial practice groups. When I think about my career, I feel very fortunate to have been part of the computing revolution with Sun Microsystems, and then with Ericsson and now Oceus Networks, to be a part of the broadband revolution. Both are significant drivers for business and they have huge social implications. It is a terrific opportunity to be working in these spaces.
GovCon Executive: How do you see the difference between working in your field in the commercial sector as opposed to the government sector?
Kristin Oelke: I have worked as a marketing leader in both the private and public sectors, and I think that the biggest differences are really around how we approach the customer with regard to procurement integrity, understanding how customer projects are funded and how we have requirements around maintaining customer confidentiality for the more sensitive projects. That’s the contrast, but I think what really remains the same from a marketing perspective is the critical need for customer insights, to really understand what are customers’ requirements and their biggest challenges. I think for any marketing leader the primary goal is prioritizing marketing resources in a way that’s impactful and meaningful to help customers understand what options they have to meet their requirements.
GovCon Executive: With starting a new business, what challenges did you first encounter?
Kristin Oelke: I think any marketer who has been responsible for creating and launching a new brand would probably say that one of the biggest challenges is identifying a name that has meaning for the business and that has a domain that correlates to that. In our case, ‘Oceus’ is a derivation of the Latin word for speed, so we are very proud of our name in that it correlates directly to the speed with which we design, build and operate our networks for our customers. It also refers to the enhanced speed that our customers experience using our broadband networks. That, coupled with the fact that OceusNetworks.com was available, gave us our identity. We’re thrilled that we have a name that is meaningful to what we offer the marketplace, and actually have a corresponding domain name since one of the key ways that the market looks at any company is really through the web.
GovCon Executive: Do you find that most of your contact comes via web based or is there still face to face networking that goes on?
Kristin Oelke: Face to face will always be the most effective way of building a relationship. But I also think that because of the web what’s even more important now is that we understand that our customers do more research, because they have greater capability to identify what we do, what we offer, and who else we’ve worked with because of the information that the web provides.
GovCon Executive: What in your opinion makes Oceus Networks unique?
Kristin Oelke: That really goes to what I was referring to earlier with regard to how we design, build and operate networks. We use standards-based COTS and GOTS technology, and because of that when the network is deployed, we are actually implementing the latest technology that is available. In contrast, if we look at how long government procurement cycles are and how long it takes to custom design and build communication solutions, by the time those technologies are deployed they are outdated. What Oceus Networks brings to the market is the latest technology that the customer can experience at the time of program execution, not when the contract was awarded.
GovCon Executive: Where do you see the company going in the future? What plans do you have to drive it forward?
Kristin Oelke: Our plans are to grow the company through increased outreach to governments domestically and internationally, sharing the expertise that we have gained from Ericsson to show governments how they can use broadband to improve citizen services and help defend their homeland. It’s really about helping government agencies worldwide understand the amazing capabilities that broadband can bring to their respective missions. Oceus Networks is about helping networks provide for a better tomorrow. In fact, our tagline is ‘Networking for a Better Tomorrow.’ It’s incredibly compelling when you think about where we were 10 years ago, where we are today and where we could be in the future with the power of broadband networks.