Dodd on the line

As I sit down to write this post about a great woman I met over tea this morning, I am sur­prised to be hearing the apropos sound of a “modem” doing it’s beeping and hissing as if it were 1994 and I were trying to sign on to the World Wide Web so I could go into an AOL chat room and talk about the color of my shoe laces just for the nov­elty of it. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but it’s bringing back memories!

Anyway, my new friend Annabel Dodd was a his­tory major in col­lege. Fast for­ward to a few decades later and her book, “The Essen­tial Guide to Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions,” is just hit­ting the shelves in its fifth edi­tion. She teaches mas­ters stu­dents infor­matics in the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies at North­eastern and con­sults with busi­nesses across the country, helping people in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions industry com­mu­ni­cate with each other.
Seems like some­thing of an oxy­moron, per­haps, but it turns out that those involved in cyber­se­cu­rity, for example, may not speak the lan­guage of those in the wire­less industry, despite the many ben­e­fits the two may achieve by working together.

So, how did a his­tory major end up teaching people the ins and outs of the tech­nical com­mu­ni­ca­tions industry? When her kids were entering ele­men­tary school, Dodd decided she wanted a change of pace. She wanted to “do some­thing.” So she enrolled in the second MBA class ever offered at Sim­mons col­lege. The two-​​year pro­gram “opened a whole new world” for her, she said. She real­ized that, despite thinking she couldn’t do math, that she in fact loved it and was good at it, to boot.

She left school and ended up at a phone com­pany (now Ver­izon) where she honed the foun­da­tions of her exper­tise in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions. After that she moved to Den­nison, (now Avery Den­nison), a For­tune 500 man­u­fac­turing com­pany, where she man­aged their world­wide telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions facilities.

By 1988 Dodd real­ized she wanted to manage her own busi­ness and not be an employee any­more. So she took on a few teaching gigs at North­eastern, where she focused on teaching “tech­nology in the non-​​technical,” and began a con­sulting com­pany called Dodd on the Line.

In the mid-​​1990s the pub­lishing com­pany Pren­tice Hall noticed her course in the North­eastern cat­alog and con­tacted her about writing a book. Just like math, she thought she couldn’t write (a book). But it turned out she’d been doing it all along: Dodd had been sending newslet­ters to her clients about the cur­rent state of tech­nology for nearly a decade. Those newslet­ters ended up being the foun­da­tion for her book, which is now used as a text­book in class­rooms across the country, has been trans­lated into 9 lan­guages, and serves as a resource for people working in phone com­pa­nies and other orga­ni­za­tions that sell to or sup­port mobile and broad­band carriers.

In the two decades since her first edi­tion, the industry has obvi­ously changed sig­nif­i­cantly, said Dodd. The newest edi­tion includes chap­ters on inter­na­tional mobile car­riers and the dif­ferent chal­lenges someone faces working in Africa versus Ire­land. An industry update focuses on the var­ious car­rier net­works, new reg­u­la­tions, and assorted mergers and acqui­si­tions. “Every­thing has gotten faster, there are new players, new tech­nolo­gies that were just being talked about before are now being imple­mented,” she said.

For instance, she noted that the orig­inal cell phones and the infra­struc­tures that sup­ported them were not designed to transmit the advanced data and video tech­nolo­gies car­ried by today’s cell phones. As a result, a new kind of net­work has emerged, called Long Term Evo­lu­tion, or LTE. Com­monly known as 4G, the net­work “uses the crit­ical mobile air­waves and infra­struc­ture more effi­ciently,” she said.

Despite a few ini­tial hes­i­ta­tions, Dodd said her cur­rent suc­cess is directly attrib­ut­able to being open and taking on new opportunities. ”