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Fitzgerald focuses on telecommunications


Lisa Fitzgerald says the goal of Iowa Network Services is simple: to increase its shareholders’ value. Of Iowa’s 147 independent telephone companies, 127 have invested in Iowa Network Services as owners.

INS brings Iowa’s independent telephone companies and national long-distance providers together through Centralized Equal Access. Centralized Equal Access allows the long-distance companies to connect with the independent providers through one fiber-optic network with a central switch point instead of 147 separate networks. As marketing manager, Fitzgerald specializes in a more personal side of Iowa Network Services.

“We handle marketing and public relations in their communities,” Fitzgerald said. “My job is to support our shareholders in rural Iowa. INS doesn’t usually take credit for the campaigns. We’re behind the scenes.”

Fitzgerald didn’t take the usual path into marketing and the telecommunications industry. After graduating from high school, she realized she wasn’t ready to go to college. Instead, she went straight in to the business world as a benefits coordinator at Principal Financial Group Inc.

“I was a glorified typist,” she said. “But I became addicted to the paycheck, and that’s hard to give up.”

When Fitzgerald realized a few years later that she wanted to enter the telecommunications field, she debated going to college. She said her paycheck addiction and the fact that there weren’t really schools where one could major in telecommunications led her to learn through work again.

“In telecommunications, experience counts for so much,” Fitzgerald said, “I knew the industry. When I applied to work at INS, they gave me a telecommunication test, and I passed it with flying colors. It helps when you know what you’re talking about.”

Fitzgerald says her industry is constantly changing. Competition is becoming more intense among long-distance providers. One particular challenge for Iowa Network Services is that many of Iowa’s independent telephone company owners who first formed the consortium are retiring.

“We don’t have the same customer loyalty factor with the new owners,” she said. “We’ll just have to work harder to form those relationships.”

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