Posted on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 in EmployeesBlog written by Rob Swenson
Mike Haskins began his impressive telecommunications career in his home state of South Dakota. He expects to end it in South Dakota, too.
Haskins, who has worked in the telecommunications industry since 1980, recently joined the leadership team at SDN Communications in Sioux Falls as the vice president of network operations and engineering.
He began his career with Nortel. He was based in Sioux Falls, but he traveled extensively for eight years to install phone systems.
Then he moved to the Des Moines area and spent much of the next three decades in executive positions with Iowa Network Services (now Aureon), Iowa Wireless and Iowa Wireless Services. His resume also includes a two-year stint as president and CEO with Caribbean Telecom Partners in Aruba and two years as CEO with Sioux Falls-based OLS Wireless Holdings. For the past six months he has been doing consulting work.
He started with SDN on May 22.
“I’m very excited,” says Haskins, who is 57. “This is probably going to be my last job, and it’s probably going to be my best one.”
He reports to SDN CEO Mark Shlanta, whom he has known for years. He will relieve Shlanta of the growing, day-to-day duty of overseeing SDN’s engineering and network operations teams.
In addition to Shlanta, Haskins already knows several members of SDN’s Board. Haskins believes that personal success hinges largely on networking and relationships, and he’s developed a large circle of friends in the industry.
Shlanta says Haskins also brings an impressive list of achievements to SDN.
“Mike’s experience at Iowa Network Services, which was the SDN of Iowa, demonstrates his ability to always improve the customer experience,” Shlanta says. “His international work in the Caribbean showcases his problem-solving skills, and his most recent work for SDN’s member companies on wireless opportunities affords him a deep understanding of our ownership group and how we can provide them better value.”
Haskins’ familiarity with SDN dates back to the start of the company in 1989, when he attended an opening ceremony as an industry executive from neighboring Iowa. It’s exciting to watch the company grow, he says.
SDN always has been perceived well in the industry, he says.
“Whenever I thought of SDN, I thought they were doing it right,” he says. “It just always seemed to me that SDN was really focused on what they were all about.”
Jake VanDewater, director of network operations for SDN, and Russ Claussen, director of network engineering, will report to Haskins. Haskins expects to spend a lot of time during his first few months listening and learning. He detects a high degree of passion, energy and competence among employees.
“To be honest, I don’t think there’s a lot broken,” he says. “The company appears to have been smart in assembling products and services, and done a good job of serving its customers.”
However, factors such as cyber threats, regulatory changes and business competition are changing the industry.
“I think the telecom industry is full of challenges and opportunities, more now than any time in history,” he says.
Haskins is a proud product of South Dakota, and he’s happy to be back in his home turf. He was born in Fort Pierre, attended high school in Kimball and graduated from the Mitchell Technical Institute in MItchell.
He and his wife, Brenda, have five children: three sons and two daughters. The youngest son, 13-year-old Ryan, remains at home and will be moving with the couple from the Des Moines area to the Sioux Falls area. The couple’s oldest son, Erik, 31, already lives in Sioux Falls. Their other three children - Taylor, 25; Connor, 21; and Shannon, 20 – live in the Des Moines area.