Kevin Storms has taken a unique approach to both his education and career.
Originally trained as a graphic artist, he joined Bell Atlantic Mobile — which went on to become Verizon Wireless — in 1995, the start of of an unlikely career that saw him move through various network engineering and project management roles at the company.
Also unlikely: That his career followed its trajectory even though Storms didn’t complete his bachelor’s degree until he was in his early 40s.
“I was fortunate Bell Atlantic Mobile gave people like me an opportunity to be part of young and growing industry — it was an exciting, fast-paced time,” said Storms, who joined the company as part of its cellular fraud prevention team. “Cellular was new — you’re basically learning and designing and engineering on the fly. I was learning so much in the technical space — and that is when I realized I needed to finish my education. I was very fortunate that my company gave me the opportunity to do that.”
Now, less than a year after completing his master’s in Network & Communication Management & Services at Stevens Institute of Technology, Storms has earned yet another promotion, and is now manager of business operations for Verizon’s wireless maintenance engineering team. His responsibilities include overseeing a financial management team that is involved with some of the grandest wireless ambitions, including 5G.
“I’m helping manage budgets for engineering managers and their teams, so my technical background is very useful to me,” he said. “The first rule is knowing your customer — for me, that’s my managers and my engineers — so knowing what they build and how they do things is crucial to understanding how to budget resources, when to be frugal and where to cut costs.”
A curriculum ahead of industry
An important advantage of the Network & Communication Management & Services program is how incredibly up to date it is. In fact, Storms took a hiatus from the program for several years; upon returning, “I could tell the courses had been updated just as the industry itself was moving from technologies like CDMA to LTE, to 4G, to 5G, to software-defined networks,” he said. “Stevens is really ahead of the curve, and a lot of that is Dr. Kevin Ryan, who keeps himself current and ensures that what you learn is of real value, especially for younger professionals who are starting out.”
In interviewing for his latest promotion, Storms said he mostly relied on his long experience with Verizon and his proven record of accomplishment in making the most of new opportunities. But he said his master’s degree from the School of Business certainly played a role.
“A master’s degree helps you stand out, especially with the number of highly talented professionals looking to enter a dynamic industry like telecom,” he said. “That was a main reason I decided to go back to school.”
In addition to being up to date, the Stevens NCMS program’s curriculum is flexible, with faculty working with students to help them create specializations that suit their career goals. For Storms, whose last role was in network security, that meant the ability to take a customized three-course concentration in cybersecurity, as well as the option to take most of his classes online.
Courses aligned with career goals
“Dr. Paul Rohmeyer worked with me to recommend some classes I could take to keep my coursework aligned with my career goals,” Storms said. “That’s one of the reasons I love the school. I learned a tremendous amount, and I have a lot of respect for the professors.”
“The courses (were) updated just as the industry itself was moving from technologies like CDMA to LTE, to 4G, to 5G, to software-defined networks.”
He has special respect for Dr. Ryan, the program’s director, whom he called “tough but fair.”
“He made classes interesting and fun,” Storms said. “Dr. Ryan is truly one of the smartest men I’ve ever spoken with, as a professor and a peer. We’ve had lots of conversations about technology and where things are going, and his perspectives were always insightful.”
Dr. Ryan remembered Storms as a “very dedicated and focused student” who was successful in class and at work.
“Kevin saw a real opportunity in Verizon through a better understanding of cybersecurity,” Dr. Ryan said. “He brought valuable industry perspective to those courses while at the same time using his new knowledge to continue an already successful career.”
Now that his success has lifted him further into the management ranks, Storms is excited to see what’s next — and confident he has the training and education to handle whatever that may be.
“I’m a proud alumnus,” he said. “I was the first in my family to get a degree, and Stevens is a top school — I knew anything with the Stevens name was something I wanted to be a part of.”