5 Questions With...

Don Banowetz, Senior VP, National Sales Channel Strategy & Support at Frontier Communications
Deborah C. Gerbers
Steve Vorderman
5 Questions With...

Q1: What is your role at Frontier Communications, and what are your primary responsibilities?
I’m in charge of all our partnerships on the consumer side of our business, which includes contracted companies that sell products on our behalf. These include our digital search partners, our online retail store (frontier.com), our traditional brick and mortar locations, our big box program and outbound telemarketing. That collective group represents about 52 percent of our business in the 29 states where we conduct business. 

Q2: What is your background, and how did your career path lead you to your position at Frontier?
I’ve been with Frontier for 14 years. Prior to that I worked in the wireless business with companies that provided traditional cellular services. I began my career with Frontier as a general manager on the operations side of the business. The first nine years here I held progressively larger roles in our field operations. When we bought the first group of Verizon properties in 2010, I moved back to Fort Wayne from upstate New York and ran our old Midwest region, which encompassed Indiana and Michigan. Five years ago our CEO asked me to take on my current role to develop our sales channels and strategy. Our world is rapidly changing and we are a mass marketing company so we must appeal to all demographic segments to maximize our potential. The millennials and Gen-Xers make buying decisions much differently than my generation and my father’s generation. My goal is to make sure we are viable and provide ready access to the mass market.

Q3: What are some of the greatest challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
The greatest challenge is getting people who don’t work directly for you to accomplish what you’d like them to accomplish. And, while any relationship needs to be mutually beneficial, this is a bit more difficult because I’m regularly dealing with business owners who are entrepreneurs looking at things through their lens first and ours second – so my job is to make sure we meet and agree as much as possible. 

Q4: What are the best qualities of a successful leader and how do you exhibit those leadership qualities in both life and work?
Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) would tell you it’s about integrity and fairness, and I agree with that. This is probably one of the most impactful books I’ve read, and I believe that the ability to work with people and get them to move in a common direction is a real art. Bobby Knight had a different theory about how to motivate people. And though he was wildly successful, those tactics are much less acceptable in today’s work environment. If I were to look back over the last 30 years of my professional career, there are several individuals who worked for me that I still speak with. They call me to seek out my opinion, which I consider to be a real compliment. I’ve had numerous people who worked for me at one point, moved on to something else, and then decided to come back and work with me again. I also believe that’s a compliment. And while leading people is not a popularity contest, it is about treating them the right way, helping to find common ground to push them in the right way so they can attain their goals. If I can help them attain their goals I will automatically benefit.

Q5: How do you define success and what are some ways you can achieve success in both life and business?
I think that it’s a relative question. As a younger man, defining success was all about business, hitting sales and income goals. But as I get older, I spend more time thinking about what’s really important. Making a good living makes a lot of things possible. But taking care of a family and striking a balance between work and life is the ultimate success. Achieving that balance in today’s environment is difficult. Traveling for fun is great, but traveling for work, not so much, yet it’s a necessary part of the job. Ultimately, it’s about the success of your family, your contribution to your community, and your contribution to your business.

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