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Getting Busy Living ─ An Interview with Extreme Champion Mike Wynnyk

Mitch Reyes Program Manager, Channel Published 4 Dec 2020

Canada has it all: unbeatable road trips, delicious food, unique culture, and great people. Today, we’d like to shine some light on one amazing person from Edmonton, Alberta, who happens to be one of our esteemed Extreme Champions. So put on your toque, grab yourself a double-double, and meet Mike Wynnyk from Charter Telecom!

You have worked at Charter Telecom for more than 20 years. It is quite impressive because you don’t usually see people staying at one company this long. What’s the source of such dedication?

When I was asked to join Charter in 1997, founder Paul Chandler explained to me the core values of the company. Two of them really resonated with me: empowerment and family balance. I have been able to be creative, set my own priorities, and collaborate with my colleagues as needed ─ without overly burdensome processes and procedures. When I joined Charter, I had a young family and not only was I allowed by the company to make time for them, I was encouraged to do so. A great example is when I had an opportunity to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain with my son. The company fully supported my request for time off, took care of my customers while I was away, and celebrated my accomplishment. I’m not sure how many other companies really walk the walk regarding work-life balance like Charter does.

You’re an experienced account manager. What’s your secret to running a great account?  

Taking the time to really listen to the customer is essential, as is building long-term relationships. Sales don’t always happen when we want them to happen, but demonstrating to our customers that we are committed to helping them achieve their objectives builds a solid relationship that leads to success for everyone. A technology vendor that shares the same philosophy is highly valued by me. Nothing happens without customers, so being respectful of their culture, processes, and procedures goes a long way. Extreme has been very supportive and easy to work with.

We know that you are managing one of the company’s largest accounts in Canada – the Government of Northwest Territories. That’s a lot of ground to cover, literally and figuratively. Tell us more about this partnership; how it came to be, what projects you’ve been involved in, and your fondest memories from working with this customer.

I’ve been working with the GNWT since the early 1980s when I worked for another Canadian technology company. When I joined Charter, a trip to Yellowknife was one of my very first calls. I returned home with an order for a couple of 10 Mbps Ethernet hubs and… the rest is history! Charter has assisted GNWT in building out two data centers and the new Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife, wired and wireless connectivity throughout all communities in the territory, and security and application delivery solutions. Charter provides frontline support through our MaintenancePlus branded PartnerWorks support.

I’ve had many enjoyable and rewarding trips to Yellowknife, often in mid-winter (don’t forget to bring your parka!). In particular, joint visits with colleagues and partners who have never ventured ‘North of 60 degrees latitude’ and share the experiences of this unique northern community with our customers are always fun.

Allow us to say that you’re a true champion for Extreme. For example, with your help, GNWT has been a long-time Extreme Fabric Connect customer. On top of that, GNWT has since expanded to purchase other Extreme products and services as well. What do you think your customers love about Extreme’s products and services?

A lot of technology vendors promise simplicity but Extreme Fabric Connect really delivers. The ability to connect new devices and deploy applications and services quickly and reliably has huge value to an organization like GNWT, given the vast distances between communities and the limited resources. GNWT was among the first (if not the first) Extreme Fabric Connect deployments in Canada. Extreme has been supportive and respectful of the northern culture and way of doing business. GNWT values having a relationship with both Extreme and Charter and all of us working together harmoniously.

For many years, Canada has been considered one of the best places to live in the entire world. Do you consider yourself lucky? What’s your favorite spot in the country? If you were to go on a sightseeing trip with an international customer, where would you take him or her?

I absolutely consider myself lucky to live in Canada and I think the future looks very promising for future generations of Canadians. I have had the good fortune of visiting every province and territory in Canada, each with something special, but Jasper, Alberta, is at the top of my list. It is a little remote compared to some of the more popular spots in Canada and that is part of its charm. It’s a beautiful place in any season. Jasper has Canada’s #1 rated golf resort, but being there in winter is a truly Canadian experience. Playing a game of pick-up hockey on a frozen mountain lake, cross-country skiing, or cycling through a snow-covered forest trail, or stargazing in a “dark sky preserve” like Jasper National Park would appeal to any visitor with a sense of adventure.

Do you feel like a champion sometimes? 

I feel like I am part of a championship team at Charter. I am fortunate to work with a great many talented people who share a culture of doing whatever it takes to deliver on our promises and demonstrate our value to our customers. My success, and Charter’s, only happens with the help of many people. They’re a fun bunch to work with, too.

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