Mentor of the Week: Philip Zeller
Project Manager | Netsync Network Solutions Phil is a Project Manager with Netsync Network Solutions, overseeing network and server infrastructure deployments for customers in the education and healthcare vertical markets. In his career in IT services, Phil has delivered projects for household brands and Fortune 500s like Best Buy, American Airlines, LEGO, and large public sector clients including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Parkland Memorial Hospital, and the University of Texas system.
Aside from his love for meeting business challenges with IT solutions, Phil is a devoted husband, father to an adopted golden retriever, econ and markets geek, Feed My Starving Children supporter, dance music addict, occasional cyclist, and cancer survivor.
Advice for 1st time entrepreneurs:
"Sell, sell, and then collect a profit! Many of today's entrepreneurs grew up in the age of low interest rates and cheap, readily accessible capital. When Silicon Valley companies that have never delivered a profit have market capitalizations comparable to Dow 30 components, it's easy to get caught up in the fallacy that product is more important than profit. While this may hold true in the short run, in the history of market economies, consistently selling products that are both in demand and profitable has never completely gone out of fashion. To that end, carefully evaluate and understand the risk-to-reward when considering any form of debt or leverage when developing a product. Leverage by definition amplifies any outcome--good or bad."
Biggest learning experience of his career:
"Perspective is key, and your customer's is the most important. Several years ago, I had a demanding customer who had little understanding of the technology we delivered, but was nonetheless under a lot of pressure from his management to have it delivered within a certain timeframe. It was a customer that represented a lot of revenue, and the project itself was fairly small. We encountered substantial, and frequent delays due to the lack of preparation on the part of the customer. It reached the point where the project had exhausted its labor budget and was past the intended due date. Suffering from myopia, I issued a change order to the customer and said that project work would be stalled until additional hours were purchased. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have realized that more so than delivering a project, my goal was to help the customer meet its goals. In the end, the matter was escalated, and my company finished the work for no additional charge. While I may have been right in following the official process, in accordance with our contract, I ignored the customer's perspective and put our relationship in jeopardy."
What keeps him motivated:
"In all of my pursuits, I focus on the positive impact of my work. When I've overseen upgrades of wireless networks for hospitals, I've thought about how a faster, more resilient network enables nurses to make patients more comfortable, doctors to diagnose more effectively, and keep patients entertained on their portable devices. In deploying virtual desktop environments for school districts, I think about the enhanced quality of instruction that comes from teachers and students can access their lessons and homework from any computer or device. The greater the outcome of my work, the greater my motivation."