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Ciena’s OTN Speedwagon gears up to rock out at OFC

By Molly Winans, Corporate Communications Associate at Ciena

OTN Speedwagon

Thousands of people gather from around the globe, all eyes on them. A sea of fans swarm the stage, ready to jam out. The lights come up, the crowd goes wild- no, we’re not talking about Bruce Springsteen playing a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden, but Ciena’s house band OTN Speedwagon dominating the stage at this year’s OFC. However, from the way the excitement’s building, you’d think it was Bruce.

Established almost a decade ago, OTN Speedwagon (the name being a fusion of OTN technology and the popular rock band REO Speedwagon) has become like a small family, Ciena acting as the proverbial family tree connecting them. Chuck Kaplan (VP of Global Consulting by day, guitar and vocals by night), reaffirms, “Ciena’s company culture promotes unity and building relationships from uplifting others. Playing at OFC is a great chance for everyone to get together, make new memories and have a lot of fun doing it.”

With OTN’s 11 members spread across the globe, the full band gets to practice in person only once or twice a year. And during the final days leading up to the OFC show, OTN is in crunch mode, with only a few fleeting hours to finalize their set list before taking the stage. But these Fortune Battle of the Bands winners are no strangers to high pressure situations. In fact, they’ve mastered them. Being total pros in the telecom industry and performing arts, a few hours of last-minute prep is all the time they need to put together an incredible show.

Throughout the year, the band members rehearse 60 songs, the length of a five-hour concert, completely on their own. They share a folder with the selected songs for the year, including mp3 files and lyrics.  All of the bandmates download them and practice solo for most of the year, and once they get together, they are very close to the finished product. The majority of the band are remote employees, so they are familiar with being accountable for collaborating on a project. Learning this substantial amount of music on their own is certainly unique, coining a new term ‘acoustic telecommuting’.

Every great performance needs a focal point, and for OTN Speedwagon, a uniquely popular act is a collection of Ciena’s executives, whose parody performances are highly anticipated at the annual sales kick-off each year. In addition to creating a powerful culture statement for the company, this also brings an unparalleled wave of energy to the crowd.  

Be sure to catch Ciena’s OTN Speedwagon jamming their hearts out at their next sold out show, the OFC 2017 conference reception.

Posted: 17 March 2017 by Molly Winans, Corporate Communications Associate at Ciena | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.

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