Melissa Bruhl is a results-oriented business development professional and commercial negotiator with over twenty years of experience in the digital infrastructure industry. Bruhl joined RTI as CCO in 2018 and specializes in developing strategic cloud deals and complex contracts with hyperscale and big data companies. With a proven record in relationship building, employee development, driving solutions, leading cross-functional teams, and aligning business strategy with customer needs, Melissa has closed contracts with a value of over one billion USD over the course of her career.
Previously, Bruhl worked for Nanea Kai Consulting, Tata Communications, SubCom, and AT&T. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.
There are so many ways someone can make their way into the digital infrastructure industry. Tell us a bit about your journey, what led you down this path, and how you got to where you are now.
My career in digital infrastructure started as a new college hire in AT&T’s Financial Leadership program. My second rotational assignment was with what was then AT&T Submarine Systems and involved handling project financing for undersea cables that AT&T was building through infrastructure loans and funding from the Export-Import Bank of the US. There I was exposed to the commercial and operational aspects of undersea cables as well as the various specialized teams that go into building them, and I was hooked.
My first international business trip was for a cable system in the Black Sea with a group of bankers and the head of AT&T sales for the region. Seeing various countries, cultures, and business styles was fascinating to me. After I completed my last rotational assignment, I sought out the commercial team back in the submarine cable division for a position as a pricer right before the sale to Tyco (now Subcom). I got to learn my commercial and negotiation style from so many talented people, many of whom are still rock stars in our industry today. Consortium cable builds moved to private cable builds, and I was asked to start the commercial team for Tyco’s then private network build in the Atlantic and the Pacific. That included not only hiring a strong staff of commercial negotiators, but also creating pricing structures, key performance parameters, and agreements, overlapping procedures, and protocols with legal, customer care, maintenance, and contract management.
It was the seed that launched my 12-year career at Tata Communications, where we grew from a group under 1,000 people made up of 3 merging telcos to well over 10,000 employees in one the largest mergers and digital enablers in the industry. Beyond relationships within the team and across leadership, key stakeholders, and our customer base, my highlight was running the business operations team for Tata’s Global Nextgen Sales—a niche sales division designed to specialize and cater to technology players like Google, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, and Salesforce—and generating over 300 million USD in annual revenue.