John Gillispie joined MOREnet as Executive Director on Jan. 11, 2010. He quickly found himself leading the organization through its most challenging time yet; in June 2010, MOREnet would be notified that all state funding would be withheld for the next fiscal year. He and his leadership team, would quickly develop a new business model, one entirely based on member-funded operations. That model has proven successful, sustaining and growing the organization over the last seven years.
Fast forward to 2017, MOREnet looks quite different than it did when John started, but remains as strong and financially stable as ever. And he believes it will remain strong as long as we continue to serve our members with the technology they need and remain relevant while adding value to the consortium. “Our members expect a higher quality experience when we are delivering a service. We must continue to serve our members what they need and our delivery of quality must remain at its highest,” explains John.
When you ask John what he is most proud of during his time here at MOREnet he will tell you three things. First, is his executive team and their ability to listen and respond to the voices of our members, especially when we had to pass all the costs through to them with nearly no notice due to the loss of our state funding. “I helped create the guardrails, but my executive staff did the steering,” states John.
Second, would be our network upgrades. In 2014, we upgraded our optical platform to support 88 wavelengths capable of delivering 10Gbps, 40Gbps, or 100Gbps wavelength giving us the ability to carry 8.8Tbps of traffic on the network. Soon after, we turned up 100Gbps circuits from Kansas City to Columbia and from Columbia to St. Louis to help the University of Missouri stay at the forefront of research and education. Both circuits connected to Internet2’s National Innovation Platform, making MOREnet, at the time, the only research and education network providing network transport services to Internet2. Gillispie is proud of our work to directly connect members to the network. MOREnet issued RFPs and acquired an additional 2,500 miles of fiber that helped to stabilize long-term Internet access costs. In 2017, we upgraded our network and migrated to a new 100Gbps backbone.
“Keeping our backbone robust enough to be able to transport the traffic members need to maximize efficiency and use of their connection is the cornerstone of what we do here at MOREnet. I am proud of our dedication to continue to think forward on infrastructure upgrades and the needs of our members,”
Lastly, would be his pilot implementation of an innovative work culture within MOREnet. ROWE, our Results Only Work Environment, has earned MOREnet national recognition for its bold new work and life balance environment where employees are responsible for their results and not held to a “traditional work place or schedule.” Job satisfaction is very high, customer satisfaction remains high and we do more work today with 20 percent fewer employees. “We can return that monetary gain back to our membership providing value and financial advantages to the consortium.”
So what are John’s plans for the future after retirement? He is working on finishing a house that he calls a bit of a “fixer upper” and he plans to simply enjoy life. He hopes to stay engaged with the research and education community, being a voice when it is helpful, but he has yet to decide to what extent.
Recruiting is currently underway for MOREnet’s next Executive Director, which we hope to announce before the end of the calendar year.