In an exclusive interview with IG Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Bedi, the Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Telecommunications Council, Sharon Nakama walks down the memory lane to share snippets from her illustrious three-decade long journey with the council.
Among the several events covering the Internet Infrastructure sector, PTC is amongst the top. It is a must-go-to event on the calendars of everyone in the industry, thanks to the feeling of family and comradery the event reverberates. Tell us about PTC’s formative journey.
Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) was conceptualized in 1977 by Richard J. Barber after exploring the idea of a Pacific-based international telecommunications organization at a meeting in Washington, D.C. The first conference was held in 1978, attended by more than 100 international technology professionals, and jointly sponsored with IEEE. The Council was then formed in 1979, and in 1980, it became an official U.S. based non-profit organization headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Year-after-year, PTC facilitated numerous mid-year seminars and quarterly meetings throughout the Pacific region, which highlighted the telecommunications systems and services needs in those areas. These issues and other yearly hot topics became the focus of PTC’s Annual Conference, which grew to more than 1,800 attendees in the late 1990s and has exponentially grown since then to over 7,900 industry attendees.
What went into making PTC a global phenomenon?
While the Annual Conference is one of the main focuses of the organization, PTC continues its efforts in the Pacific Rim through its many community initiatives – PTC Academy, PTC Young Scholar Program, PTC Research Awards, PTC Projects, and PTC Broadband Reports.
Our PTC Members support our vision and the work we do to improve the quality of life in the Pacific Rim through ICT initiatives. We accomplish this through the opportunities we provide for stakeholders from across the global communications ecosystem to meet, network, and advance the development of ICT. We encourage education, research and sharing of ideas to benefit the people of the Pacific region.
And it’s the relationships and new partnerships that have been created and established over the years that amount to PTC’s success and the success of its members in the industry. Many ideas are presented, joint projects agreed upon and then executed, making lives better. Each time this happens, it leads the way for others to do the same.
You are a very successful businesswoman and an entrepreneur. Can you share with our readers what your journey has been like personally, in this industry?
After graduating from college, I almost became a programmer. I took up a temporary job at PTC as a receptionist while looking to get into a permanent computing position. The temp job turned into programming, and as a 30-year veteran of the organization, I had the pleasure of serving in a number of roles at PTC, including membership coordinator, director of conferences, secretariat manager, and now CEO.
While the industry is still predominantly male, I have seen it grow to include more female entrepreneurs and the up-and-coming millennial generation. The innovation they’re bringing to the table is exciting. This is a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving and doesn’t wait for anyone. To think of where technology was 30 years ago, to where we are today, is fascinating.