Connected Nation

"If it doesn't exist, let's invent it." Discover the mindset of innovation with a Google insider.

February 06, 2024 Jessica Denson Season 5 Episode 4
"If it doesn't exist, let's invent it." Discover the mindset of innovation with a Google insider.
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Connected Nation
"If it doesn't exist, let's invent it." Discover the mindset of innovation with a Google insider.
Feb 06, 2024 Season 5 Episode 4
Jessica Denson

On this episode, we are joined by an amazing guest that is a US Army Veteran, IT Adjunct Professor at South University and Technical Program Manager at Google. We discuss his time in Iraq, his 18 years of experience in the "Game of Thrones" world of telecommunications and what it is like to work at Google.

As he is our first guest of Black History Month, Demarkus also shares his experience as an African-American in telecommunications and what can be done to provide more opportunities for African-Americans in tech.

Recommended Links:
Demarkus Pruitt LinkedIn

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On this episode, we are joined by an amazing guest that is a US Army Veteran, IT Adjunct Professor at South University and Technical Program Manager at Google. We discuss his time in Iraq, his 18 years of experience in the "Game of Thrones" world of telecommunications and what it is like to work at Google.

As he is our first guest of Black History Month, Demarkus also shares his experience as an African-American in telecommunications and what can be done to provide more opportunities for African-Americans in tech.

Recommended Links:
Demarkus Pruitt LinkedIn

Jessica Denson (00:12):

This is Connected Nation, an award-winning podcast focused on all things broadband from closing the digital divide to improving your internet speeds. We talk technology topics that impact all of us, our families, and our neighborhoods. As you probably know, February is Black History Month, an important reminder to learn and spread the word about black innovators and history makers who've helped shaped our world for the better in honor of the month. Today we're talking with a man who not only works as a technical program manager in Google Network operations, but is also shaping the future of the technology workforce as a college professor in it. I'm Jessica Desen, and this is Connected Nation. I'm Jessica Desen, and today I'm talking with DeMarcus Pruitt, an insider at Google and it adjunct professor at South University and a graduate a Sullivan University with a PhD in management and it DeMarcus. Welcome to our show today. You earned the doctorate. Do you go by Dr. Pruitt? Demarkus Pruitt (01:13):

Hey Jessica. Thank you. Only my students call me Dr. Pruitt, so you just call me DeMarcus. Jessica Denson (01:20):

Okay. Well, I'm sure I'll learn a lot from you today, so maybe by the end of it it'll be Dr. Pruitt. I am very excited to talk to you today. You were recommended to me by one of my colleagues as someone who really knows and understands the tech space, so I'm excited to dive in. First, tell us a little bit about your background, DeMarcus, such as where you grew up, where you got your love of tech and it. Demarkus Pruitt (01:46):

Awesome. Thank you Jessica, once again. I appreciate it and I'm very honored to be on the show just to walk through it. Like you said, I'm from Kentucky. I'm actually born and raised out of Louisville, Kentucky. You heard it the way I said it Louisville, so Jessica Denson (02:00):

Yeah, it's proper. Yeah. Demarkus Pruitt (02:03):

So yeah, so grew up in Louisville. I went to college at Mary State University. That's where I studied telecommunication systems management, and I got my bachelor's there. I started the MBA program there. However, while I was in college, I was also in the Army Reserve, and so I wound up getting deployed and why I deployed over Iraq. I finished my MBA online via University of Phoenix. So while I was in the military, I was a network systems installer, deployed in rack, and basically what I did was I ran a team of systems installers. We installed fiber optics throughout the country and basically commercialize the fiber. So the first wave of soldiers went over, and this is keep mind, this is 2005, up until 2007. They tactically ran the fiber, basically threw it on the ground. We came in and made it look like it is here in the states.
You put conduits, manholes in running fibers, patch panels, doing the racking and stacking type of stuff. So it was a really good experience from the hands zone physical perspective. And then also that was the early on phases of some of my leadership experience being what they call a non-commissioned officer, a sergeant in the military, and having a team of individuals reporting to me, like I said, while I was there, good and bad as in being away from family and stuff, but you utilize your time effectively and I was able to continue my studies. So when I had some downtime, I would get online and like I said, work through the University of Phoenix and was able to continue my studies. And actually I wrote my last paper for my MBA flying back from Iraq to the state. Oh, Jessica Denson (04:13):

Wow. Demarkus Pruitt (04:15):

So as soon as I land, I went to the computer lab and emailed my professor at the time. So that was a big win. I was pretty excited about that. And then go ahead. Jessica Denson (04:28):

And how is that, I just want to just touch a little bit more on your time in Iraq. You installed over 300 miles of fiber optics across the country and you really organized and supervised those telecom installations and then that was within a combat zone, correct? Yeah. How do you navigate something like that? That seems so difficult and even scary at times, I would imagine. Am I pontificating too much or can you explain what that was like to navigate that kind of landscape? Demarkus Pruitt (05:05):

Yeah, yeah, definitely. You're absolutely correct. It was in all different aspects. There was a lot of stress, a lot of risks. But at the same time, that's the thing I say about the military, I'm a very big advocate of the military and the comradery. Everyone forms, everyone's your brother and sister as your new family while you're over, everyone is looking out for one another. So that helps out with that stress aspect. However, there's still stress and to your point, a lot of times, and I've had conversations with say, and as we get into other companies, I work for, on the commercial side, we're talking to our field checks and individuals who are out there in the field. The difference literally we're out there installing fiber, maybe splicing with a M 16 on your back and somebody actually covering you splicing fiber and you could hear rounds coming down the range or at that particular time, mortis blowing up an air.
And one of the, and I would say the greatest accomplishments or pride moment for me over there was that my team was also responsible for the fiber optic systems that connected the perimeter defense system. So while we were in Iraq and mortars the, let's call it the bad guys, the enemies were shooting mortars into our bases and stuff. And the military had a pretty sophisticated weapon system. They basically took these large guns, gather guns off of aircraft carriers, and they would basically spray the sky like a mortar comes out and they have basically radar and they'll spray the sky and the systems. Each of these guns made a 360 degree perimeter, and each of these guns were connected via fiber optics all the way around the base.
So anytime the fiber Octa got cut, because individuals might find the cables like the locals and stuff there, and this is common for overseas, anywhere in the world, individuals, sometimes it would take see a cable and think it's copper. You cut the cable and they'll take the copper and basically go sell it, right? It's metal. And a lot of times they wouldn't even know if they were cutting. So they're cutting and they're cutting into glass. And then basically our systems would give us some type of notification and the actual perimeter, the system actually have a vulnerability in it. So a gun might be down, no one knows, be very, very, I would say lucky or we had to be unlucky for them to shoot him. But it was very high critical. So literally we were on call over seas, right? So literally be two in the morning, three in the morning, you get that phone call, we got to run out there and hurry up and try to repair that systemly. Jessica Denson (08:18):

Incredible. It sounds like a movie almost. You know what I mean? Just you're trying to lay this cable and it's going to help with the perimeter and there's gunfire. I mean, it just had to be, I didn't want to go breeze by that because wow, what an amazing thing you did and to protect, forgive me for not knowing the military terms, but is that your platoon or is it to protect each other through that Right soldier for soldier. Yeah, it's crazy. And let's go back to some of your background that you're married with three children, right? Tell us a little bit about your family life. I know you no longer live in Louisville, you're now in Austin, right? Demarkus Pruitt (09:00):

Yes. Yeah, so I live in Austin, Texas, a suburbs by the name of Pflugerville pf, but definitely been in Austin, the Austin area for right over 10 years. I moved here in 2013, December the 26th. We moved here the day after Christmas. I wasn't the favorite Jessica Denson (09:27):

Amongst the faint kids. You have three kids and how long have you been married? Demarkus Pruitt (09:34):

18 years to my wonderful wife, Candace, and she's also from Louisville, Kentucky. So all of our family is there in Louisville. Jessica Denson (09:45):

It's funny, in Louisville and you're in Austin and I grew up in Austin and you grew up in Louisville, and I love that you gave the pronunciation of Louisville. That's a big joke here for people who've not been to Louisville. People say it wrong, they say Louisville or Louisville. So Louisville is a big deal, but you've been now in Austin for a bit. And talk a little bit more about your professional background beginning with Murray State University. Demarkus Pruitt (10:12):

So Murray State University is a great school and has a great program in regards to, at that particular time we called it the TSM program, telecommunication Systems program. And actually when I walked in the door, and I guess I'm kind of dating myself, I walked in 1999. I was initially trying to do electrical engineering, which they still had electrical engineering program. However, the program went and partner with a lot of the businesses and stuff and try to understand how they can better position their students for future success. So can't a lot of the programs say, Hey, either I have to hire somebody to have a lot of technical skills and knowledge and I got to train 'em on the business side and the management side or vice versa. I hired a business student and has to train 'em on the technical side. So basically that program came about and they renamed the program and I think it's called network management system.
Don't get me get it wrong, but they rebranded, which I agree. Even at that particular time, telecommunications was probably not the best name for the program. It was more like a computer science program. Yes, we did it networking. We did the programming side of the house. Like I said, we did the business management marketing side of the house. So it was a very, very well-rounded program. And just like I tell everybody, you go to college, you're not going to walk out the door an expert or a subject matter expert, but it does expose you to all the different faucets or aspects of technology at that particular time. Jessica Denson (11:54):

And you've really taken that. And I looked at your resume, you've got a resume as to who's who in the broadband and telecoms, world spectrum insight, communications, charter communications, talk about some of those companies you've worked for. And then of course we want to explore Google. Demarkus Pruitt (12:11):

Okay, awesome. I appreciate that. Yeah. So yeah, like I told you, I was in the military, so I came back from the military even I was on the reserve right before I left. I was actually working in call center. A lot of times in it, you might start out on the ground floor, you got to do the tech support. And I was working for communication for a short, Jessica Denson (12:38):

We call that paying our dues or at one point that's what they tell you. When you're new, you're paying your dues. That's all you're doing Demarkus Pruitt (12:47):

On the phone with angry customers, internet. So good time. And so I went to the military, learned some skills there on the hands-on aspect of it, and then came right back and jumped into inside Communications. And at that particular time, just to refresher my insight, communication is no longer around, but it was a ISP internet service provider, basically like a cable company that serviced try or quad state region depending on when you noticed it, but pretty much Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio. And there was a point where we had Illinois and at the high height of Insight, there's about 1.5 million subscribers and as cable telephony and internet services. And so basically I got brought in, and at that particular time, kind of a cool story insight was 49% kind of owned by Comcast. So there was a point where everyone knew that Jessica Denson (14:08):

Things were going to tip, Demarkus Pruitt (14:09):

Yeah, things going to tip. So yeah, when I came into Insight communications from the military Insight Network was being managed by at and t. And so basically when I say managed, so all the routers switches, the network operations and engineering aspect of the company was getting managed by at and t. So there was a disagreement on the contract and basically the insight leadership and the at t leadership didn't come to an agreement and the contract came to an abrupt end. So when it came, literally Insight had to stand up their own network operations and engineering within 30 days.
So I walked in the door January of 2007. And so six months prior to that is when that happened. And so literally I walked in the door and I was part of the first network operations and the network operations center team. So I walked in the door as a supervisor and basically, and one of the reasons they hired me was due to my experience coming out of the military, in addition to having this IT work experience, a lot of the people who never had hands on and couldn't understand and a lot of times, and they service provider like that, the majority of the network is ran by the physical aspect of it, the connectivity between the different centers and stuff like that. So I have somebody to be able that can relate and talk to the field teams and stuff like that and build process and procedures around. It was a big win. Yeah. Jessica Denson (16:07):

And so from Insight to Charter, what was that was when you made that step after all that was done? Demarkus Pruitt (16:17):

So Insight and the telecom industry is just the Game of Thrones, right? I dunno if you like this. Jessica Denson (16:28):

Yeah, I do. Demarkus Pruitt (16:31):

Who's in charge at that particular moment? So Insight got purchased by Tom Warner Cable at that time and I see, yeah. And Tom Warner Cable came in and let me rewind back. So even before that happened, and we were managing our own, Comcast owned 49% of insight and we had to do a split and Comcast took the 49%, which was the Illinois and northern Indiana region. And Insight kept Kentucky, southern Indiana and Ohio, Cincinnati area and some of the Columbus area. And so Dan Fast work, Tom Warner comes in purchases, it made sense for them. It was insight set right between a lot of their markets and purchase insight about 2012. And then that went into the process of integrating the organization into Taiwan warn, and that's kind of how I got to Austin. Jessica Denson (17:37):

I see. That brings us to your current roles. You are at Google, you work as a technical program manager in Google Network operations, and you also are an adjunct professor at South University. Let's explore some of Google a little bit. I know everybody wants a little peek into the Google offices. Tell us what a technical program manager in Google network operations is and kind of give us an idea of that. You can get a little technical, but also maybe a layman's terms as well. Demarkus Pruitt (18:11):

Yeah, Google is a very interesting organization. It's a filled with a lot of smart people. Yeah, you're right. So you're the term technical program manager. What does that mean and stuff like that? Yeah, it's in Google and there's different levels of program managers and stuff like that. So traditionally we are a technical program manager. You have experience in that specific area. So for me, I have experience in the networking side, the network operation and network engineering side of the house. So for me as of today, responsible for the end-to-end repair operations of Google's, we'll say customer facing network. So basically myself and my team supports the connectivity between all of Google's data centers across the world. So for example, any product that you use of Google that's hosted at that data center, basically it has to get out to the world in the world has to get into it. So your Gmail, the docs, YouTube, any of the services that you use as Google wise, we provide that connectivity. And it is arguably, no one knows a hundred percent who has the largest network between some of the major services in the world, but it's arguably a top three, a largest in the world. Jessica Denson (19:48):

Oh, you could definitely make that argument for sure. Yeah, that must come. Do you get calls at all hours of the night or do you get to some time off from that or it seems like that would be a constant surveillance of that. Demarkus Pruitt (20:02):

Yeah, so now I don't have to be in the far per se. And once again, like I said, Google is a very, very smart organization. So I do have the responsibility of our NOC services, which is we do use some third party resources. So I do the vendor management aspect of it. So they do a lot of our tier one perspective. And then from my engineering perspective, my role is to look at the processes and procedures that look at the effectiveness, the entire end to end process flow. So I work with a lot of different partners internally and external. So if we have an outage or something like that, trying to understand why do we have the outage, how can we never make it happen again, or how to minimize the impact. Right. Jessica Denson (20:56):

So do you work in conjunction with others? I didn't know you said third party resources, but so are there other headquarters I guess you would call it for Google in different parts of the world or is it all there in Austin? Demarkus Pruitt (21:10):

No, no, no. So matter of fact, that's another good thing about Google. So that's the quality of life too. So all our engineers are in all the different geos, the different time zones. So we have a North America, south America group, we have AMEA or Europe, Africa group, and then we have our APAC group, India Asia perspective, and then you'll have engineers all across the world. And then like I said, from the third party perspective, there are some, let's call it entry level type of roles and stuff where basically interacting with, say some other service providers will call in to Google or we might have to reach out to 'EM because we know something's down that they provide, like we said, spectrum Charter, right? Since I worked there, they might provide connectivity between a certain area. Google is not in the business of building infrastructure, we're going to lease it from other. Jessica Denson (22:19):

Yeah, Demarkus Pruitt (22:20):

I do have a team that will interact with those vendors and stuff like that and might do the low level or entry level troubleshooting. So we will partner with contractors or third party resources. Jessica Denson (22:38):

What would you say in your opinion is the coolest thing then about your job? Demarkus Pruitt (22:43):

I would say the people. I mean coming from a more historically telecom background, as in a lot of the companies, like I was saying, acquisition after acquisition, we all kind of know each other. I don't care,
Tom Warner, charter Spectrum, lumen, Comcast, it doesn't matter. A lot of it is same. And a lot of the leadership and stuff like that jumped across from different groups. So a lot of the same type of methodology, the same type of culture and stuff is there. So I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but now you go into an organization that was IT or software based and they have a different approach to stuff and they want to do stuff more efficiently and utilizing software, Google's like, if it doesn't exist, let's invent it. So there's some stuff that I, that's Jessica Denson (23:45):

Cool, Demarkus Pruitt (23:47):

But if it doesn't exist, if there's a router or switch that doesn't exist that can't, you go to the major network providers, the Ciscos and the Junipers of the world and say, Hey, we need a solution for this. And they're like, we don't have a solution for it because no one has ever asked for anything that can do what you needed to do. Like I said, we're one of the largest networks in the world. We're pushing a lot of traffic, a lot of stuff is happening. And so Google is a 70% what they call swes software engineers, so they can program pretty much anything and automate almost anything. So we do a lot of cool things in regards to, and I know a lot of times you talk to individuals, people are like, oh, I'm going to lose my job. We not just allow us to do some of the stuff that people were manually doing and some of the troubleshooting stuff, and maybe we'll talk about it a little bit like the AI stuff, the artificial intelligence type of stuff, and automation where another company might have a hundred people to do it and we can reduce that and make it more effective and efficient, the software. Jessica Denson (25:05):

That's super cool. So they really encourage innovation and allow space for it is what you're saying? Demarkus Pruitt (25:12):

Yes, ma'am. Absolutely. Jessica Denson (25:14):

That's very cool. The idea that, oh, we don't have, no one has that. Well, let's go make it or invent it. That's super cool. I don't want to skip that. You're also an IT adjunct professor at South University. Talk a little bit about what you teach with that, what you're seeing or what you think is on the horizon that kids really should be learning in that because really training the workforce of tomorrow within this space. So what are some things you are teaching and what do you think's ahead? Demarkus Pruitt (25:46):

Great question. So yeah, definitely. Yeah, I'm an adjunct professor at South University and I actually got into it while I was working on my PhD. So I started my PhD when I was living in Louisville at Sullivan University. And you could also do everything online and throughout the program, one of the things they encourage is for you to, even if it's not your goal or dream, to go out and teach while you're going through the program. And I wind up teaching at South University and I walk in and actually did one of their intros or what they call computer science one oh one or whatever, which was basically just showing students how to use a and use a word processor, stuff like that. But you get your PhD and you're qualified to other different classes. So to answer your question, so normally I do our networking classes, basic networking and advanced networking. I do with my PMP project management background and program management background and management background. I do project management, I teach IT project management. That's the class I'm teaching writing at as we speak. I'll do some IT auditing classes, some other type of program management type of classes, some IT leadership type of classes from that perspective. Jessica Denson (27:36):

So as I mentioned in my opening remarking black history month by talking with black innovators and leaders in tech like yourself, what can be done to get more black and brown youth excited about tech or even older adults excited about working in tech or learning tech? Demarkus Pruitt (27:54):

Yeah, this is a great question. So one of the things is, I would say, is to meet people where they are, right? Black and brown male female aspect. I'll tell you this. So when I came to Texas and I had to stand up our network operations in the Time Warner Space, we had a team that we had to build and hire, and it was about 150 people in our organization. And out of the 150 people, we only had, so HR will come in and they'll give you say some numbers and stuff and say, Hey, you are deficient in this aspect. And they came in and said, Hey, you're deficient in minorities. They said black and brown people and grossly deficient in females. And so definitely we had to figure out ways to try to increase that. And what happened, we noticed was initially when we did our study, our research on it was that you put out recs or job postings, and the people who applied for 'em were predominantly non female, male or non-black or brown.
And so it wasn't, don't get me wrong, I know it's out there in regards to nature, but at the same time, a lot of leaders will only pick what they got. If I got 10 applications and all of them looked a certain way and they all the same, a white male, then you got to pick one of the 10. So what we found out is we got to get out there and meet people where they are. So we started targeting community colleges, doing job fairs, going into organizations, going into schools, and trying to make people aware of the possibility. So just like myself and my story, I mean growing up in Louisville, Kentucky grew up in the west end. So that was basically the urban low income side of the town. And growing up with a single mother, you didn't see technology out there, you didn't see a professionals out there and you had to put yourself in that space, but at the same time, you never notice anybody coming back to make us aware of it. So I say that it's a twofold thing. It's not an easy answer. You have to go look, but you ask yourself if you don't know what to look for, you are not going to look for it if I never, do Jessica Denson (30:59):

You think there's something to be said to seeing, especially during Black History month and not even just black History Month, but anytime seeing people in tech that look like you and are like, it makes you feel like it's more accessible. Impossible. Demarkus Pruitt (31:14):

Absolutely. I mean, absolutely seeing it, it helps you believe it, right? And not to sway the story, but for example, like I said, I have three kids, my daughter's 18, I have a 14-year-old son and a 11-year-old son. And both of my sons, when I grew up just being honest, I wanted to be president of the United States, but I never even considered that. It was just like, nah, that's not going to happen. Never. I looked up and my sons one born in 2009, December, and the other one was born in 2012, April, 2012. And for the first few years of their life, that's all they ever knew as a black president. And it's like attainable to them. They see it. If they want to do it, it can happen. So the same thing. You see individuals in there in those spaces and stuff, you feel like you can do it. You feel like you belong. So I think that's very, very big. And then that's another thing I said about Google when I was saying the people, Google is probably one of the most diverse organizations I work for, and even it's a global organization, but people of different backgrounds, different continents, different ethnicities. It's not uncommon to be in a US office and hear people speak a different language. So it is pretty amazing. You sit down, at the end of the day, people are people.
Everyone wants to do a good job. People want to be able to take care of their families. People want to be successful. And I think that's a great thing. That's why I said the people, right? There's a lot of smart people that want to do a great job and are open Jessica Denson (33:19):

And having diversity, don't you think really lends to that idea of the innovation? You have different ideas and different points of view that something I may never think of comes naturally to you or vice versa. And so that seems to me would breed innovation, that space that Google's trying to make. Demarkus Pruitt (33:38):

Yeah, yeah. Yep. You're absolutely right. I used to use that analogy before. It was like, I'm a sports fan, so football, if I got all the exact same position, if I got all wide receivers, 11 wide receivers out there, is my team going to be good? No, they might be fast, but they ain't going to be able to block for their quarterback linemen, the lineman, they might be able to block, but nobody's running it. So every position makes a team good. You get the individuals who are suited for those positions and everyone has a skill ability. And it's just like the military. I mean, you got people that you might be in the leadership and people that can do a certain thing and it makes the greater, the organization, the team, they're much better and in different lenses per se, different areas. So yeah, it's, Jessica Denson (34:41):

I'm surprised you didn't pick basketball since you grew up in Kentucky. Football's really a Texas thing. Demarkus Pruitt (34:49):

I didn't want the listeners to cut off which team I rooted for. Jessica Denson (34:57):

Yeah, I had to learn how much people love basketball compared to football. I grew up in football country when I moved here. Yeah. Well, DeMarcus, I really enjoy talking to you, but I can't keep you all day. It is, we are recording this on a Friday, so I do want you to have some time with your family this weekend. So just a couple more questions and I'll let you go. What do you think is ahead for the internet or tech in general, or what are you excited about? You don't have to give any Google secrets away, but if you want to tell us anything, great, we would love to hear it. Demarkus Pruitt (35:32):

So people ask me all the time, I literally had a conversation with a gentleman last week. It was asking me, Hey, what should I be learning for the future? Where is this technology? It's a good question. Yeah, the answer is this. No one knows. No one knows. And I say that because as you look back, a lot of times you look back at history and it will tell you the future. So a lot of times we went down a path, and I say we as in people went down a certain path and thought it was going to be the greatest thing, innovation or whatever. And then it explain changes. So the only thing I can say based on what I'm seeing, I tell people, there's a couple of areas that I say go into. Number one, I'm biased. Yes, I know I'm biased. I'm fan networking. I'm a big fan for networking connectivity because I truly believe, and we always have debates about that, that networking connectivity is one of the greatest technological innovations of time. And I say that because that is the great enable for a lot of other technological innovations. I mean, people will talk about cloud computing and stuff. And during my PhD, my dissertation was on the security factor of cloud computing.
Cloud computing as in having computers, servers, and all that is not anything new. And people even tried to introduce it, basically having applications on remote servers and stuff. But the greatest hurdle was the low bandwidth, the unreliable connectivity. And so now that opened the door. I mean, right now we're talking, I'm at home, I have a thousand, I got a gig download and upload connectivity at my home. And so now everyone's at the house. Netflix is okay, you can use Netflix and all the different streaming services out there, just same with Google. To be able to have a document typing on that's not even on your computer. Even now, laptops or hard drives are not as essential. The storage on a laptop is not as essential as it was back in the day. So I mean, I had to say, it opens the door. Everything is now connectivity based.
They'll use the term internet of things. TVs are smart, refrigerators are smart, are all of our phones and stuff. The connectivity and all the apps and all that is based on the network. So that's why I said, that's why I'm a big proponent saying it may not the sexiest and coolest thing out there, but it is the technological highway. Just like we drive a car, it if we had dirt roads and it'd be very, very hard to get between the cities and get over other side of town. So I'm a big fan of that. I tell people always look at the networking side of the house and the infrastructure. It's not going anywhere. It's only going to grow. You have more stuff dumped to the internet. The application is going to grow, the data consumption is going to continue to grow. But Jessica Denson (39:13):

When your neighbors find out what you do, they call you up when their internet goes down. Demarkus Pruitt (39:18):

They used to, can Jessica Denson (39:19):

You help us out? Demarkus Pruitt (39:22):

They used to. And when I was in Kentucky, I asked some great stories about that and insight, which that was one of the cool things about working for a smaller company. Our CEO at the time was a big fan of saying, Hey, there shouldn't be a customer that knows an employee that has bad service and they had special escalation lines and stuff of that. But yeah. Jessica Denson (39:47):

You say you had some stories. Is there what you want to tell us before you let us go before we go? Demarkus Pruitt (39:54):

Well, stories are escalation wise, but yeah, definitely. I remember helping out, my kids did scouts and stuff, and I used to help out with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and stuff like that. I had a parent that was very, very upset about their internet not working and stuff, and it's horrible. And they found out worked there and they was like, anything you can do and stuff like that. So all, yeah, I got you. No problem. And I call in there and the manager and all that and pushed him a little bit and come to find out, I was like, yeah, Mr. Pruit. Yeah, tell Bob just to pay his bill. Jessica Denson (40:44):

Yeah, it helps if you pay for the service. Demarkus Pruitt (40:48):

I was like, ah, okay. So I learned my lesson. That's the first question anybody ask. Like, Hey man, just to make sure, no offense, but you're caught up on your bills, you made your payment. Jessica Denson (41:03):

Well, is there anything that you hope people take away or a word of wisdom that you would want to share from your experience, from our discussion today? Demarkus Pruitt (41:14):

So from the technology perspective, and I know we're running out of time, but in addition to networking areas to look at is the automation or ai. People always talk about artificial intelligence, automation there to look into that aspect. Any type of programming or coding because they all fit together. And the data science aspect, understanding because once again, there's so much traffic and information that organizations are able to capture so much more statistical information and individuals who can categorize it, organize it, the data and be able to interpret it and create models and stuff off of it, is such a big need. And we see that in the Google space to be able to interpret it and make predictions data Jessica Denson (42:11):

With your G four analytics. Isn't that what that is? The Google analytics Demarkus Pruitt (42:18):

And then the management, right? Program management, project management. You've got a lot of smart people, and so you got to be able to pull all the smart people together and be able to help steer the ship where it needs to. So definitely those are some of the key areas. And basically tell people to be open, as in you go down a path, but always keep your eyes in the future trying to understand the innovation and be able to make that change to be able to say, Hey, I see this technology coming. I need to learn. I need to change. In the telecom space, the way that we did telephony services changed greatly from let's say the twisted pair, the what we call the DMS, the A trans systems, into more of a IP type of a base phone service. You needed to learn, you needed to move over from the traditional Bell South my bell type of stuff to new stuff. So I always be willing to learn, be able to look, and I'm a big advocate of technology, but just I can strongly encourage individuals to get in there. And even if you don't find yourself having a passion or love for technology, but look at the technology companies. A lot of the large technology companies have roles that are not tech-based, if that makes sense. Jessica Denson (43:54):

And it's an industry that's just going to change and grow and not just disappear. Yeah. Yeah. Well, DeMarcus, I've really appreciated you sharing your thoughts and your experience with us. It's been very interesting. You've been open for sure to all kinds of experiences, and I just appreciate you sharing 'em with us today. Demarkus Pruitt (44:16):

Oh, I appreciate it. Thank you, Jessica, for having me on today. And yeah, thank you Jessica Denson (44:31):

Again. I've been talking today with DeMarcus Pruitt, a technical program manager in Google Network operations and IT adjunct professor at South University located in Austin, Texas. Still ahead this month on Connected Nation, we'll talk with a round table of black leaders about the contributions of black history makers to broadband and its related technologies. We'll also ask what can be done to bring more African-Americans to the field and discuss real world challenges for black communities in navigating technology. I'm Jessica Denson. Thanks for listening. If you like our show and want to know more about us, head to connect to or look for the latest episodes on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Google Podcast, Pandora, or Spotify.

Time in the Army
Living in Austin and Louisville
Start of his professional career
Working for Google
Being a professor at South University
Black History Month/African-Americans in tech
Helping neighbors with their internet
Conclusion + Outro