Markets: Cable Management
We want you to get to know the Milliken Cable Management team better, so we’ll occasionally feature team members in our Associate Spotlight series. This month we’re getting to know Lee Bedingfield, global product manager.
Lee, tell us a little about yourself.
I started at Milliken in 1993 after graduating from Auburn University in chemical engineering. Roughly half those years were spent in manufacturing for the Floor Covering Division, and the other half have been on the business side with the Performance & Protective Textiles Division. When I worked on the manufacturing side, my roles ran the gamut from production to process engineering and project management. On the business side, I’ve been involved in everything from development to operations and technical support. My current role is global product manager with Milliken’s Cable Management business.
What does a global product manager do?
Truly no two days are alike in this role. Typical mornings are frequently spent addressing technical and logistical questions from Asia. I serve as a point of reference on product technical aspects and cable installation applications. I also work as a liaison with our sales groups and to our end users. Some days, I work directly with customers, others with business operations. In addition, I help our development team get new products to market and see how we can improve these products for the life cycle.
I’m the resident expert in Open Settlement Protocol (OSP) products and applications related to MaxCell®, Vis™ Divide and Vis™ Tape. I’ve logged hundreds of hours of field testing these products in addition to verifying performance with our customers in their installations.
What’s your role during field testing?
Before we launch new products, we want to have performance data on them, which requires head-to-head testing. We have a specific testing facility where we can mimic nearly any application that a customer may have. I manage all the field trials and set them up. I hire contractors to install the cables in our products, just like an engineer would. The contractors run the cable pulls with our products, and I take relevant data while observing differences as if it were a lab experiment but closer to the real world.
What do you enjoy most about working for Milliken?
I enjoy that it’s never the same thing each day. I get to spend a lot of time working with both our customers and with manufacturing. Also, I enjoy diversity in different cultures and because I get to do a lot of global travel, I get to appreciate the differences here in the U.S. versus how others work in China, Southeast Asia or Europe.
With this front-row seat, how do you see the telecommunications industry changing?
Everyone globally is talking about 5G. It’s such a major shift from 4G technology that we are all trying to determine if (or how) it will truly impact the industry. Specifically, everyone is still figuring out how to implement it from an infrastructure standpoint. For example, everyone knows 5G will have higher frequency that travels a shorter distance and will require more antennas or densification, but no one is entirely sure a about the full implications. It’s interesting because everyone — in every country — is having the same conversation: how will this build out and who will be first?
Do you have any interesting travel stories?
So many stories. Once I was working on a project with BSNL in Calcutta, India. There was a vault housing the application that we needed to get access into. The problem was that no one had been inside this vault for over 10 years, and a local resident had built some kind of shrine over the area. We had to move the shrine to get inside, which made the resident very upset. My Indian colleagues told her it was my fault and then told me she had placed a curse on me. I’m not sure if curses are true or if traveling in and out of India is just a challenge, but I had a particularly “difficult” time the rest of my stay.
What’s on your bucket list?
I do a lot of diving and have been to a lot of cool places — diving the Andaman Sea below Thailand in the Indian Ocean has been possibly my favorite experience to date — but I’ve always wanted to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been to Australia but never had a chance to do any diving there. Maybe one day.
Thanks, Lee! Look for more Associate Spotlight pieces coming soon.