With 725 million WiFi households worldwide in 2015, the continued growth of the Internet of Things suggests that WiFi will play a key role when it comes to interoperability between a multitude of connected devices. Figueroa leads those efforts, with a unique background that makes him well qualified to be the master mediator and collaborator for this growing sector. After all, as the only son in a family with 5 daughters, Edgar regularly found himself mediating family issues. Being able to reflect on an endeavor with recognition that “we did our best” is part of how he defines success.
What’s your biggest professional accomplishment in the past 12 months?
In the past 12 months the Wi-Fi industry, and Wi-Fi Alliance in particular, have been considering the role that we want for ourselves in an era when traditional mobile services like LTE are being considered for operation in unlicensed spectrum in ways that are different from exclusively unlicensed spectrum technologies like Wi-Fi. The stakes are high. If LTE deployments in unlicensed spectrum lack proper etiquette, no less than normal operations for billions of Wi-Fi devices are at risk. This is a seminal period in the wireless era, and where we go from here may have broad impact on the Cable, Mobile, Consumer Electronics and other mass markets. In recent months the dialogue within Wi-Fi Alliance has distilled that we need to ensure Wi-Fi services are not jeopardized through the deployment of these new entrants in unlicensed spectrum, and the role that we will play. Wi-Fi Alliance will lead by defining fair spectrum sharing, and how fair spectrum sharing should be evaluated and tested. Our ability to galvanize our industry around defining our leadership role in this area is something we are proud of because of its complexity and its relevance.
Best business advice you’ve received?
I have been fortunate to have received excellent advice over the years, and I’ve benefitted from putting that advice into practice. Something I learned from John Maxwell is to surround myself with strong leaders, and this has helped me not only to build high-performing executive teams, but also a strong culture of autonomy and accountability that permeates our company. I learned from Jeff Ansell the responsibility of a leader to offer clarity, and to do that by communicating succinctly in the way that is best suited for the audience. It may well be that I put Jeff’s advice into practice daily. Tory Teague—whom I worked with at Ridgeway Systems, a startup company that created amazing technology–taught me the power of optimism and of setting clear expectations. Mike Wadino, whom I worked with at 3M, taught me the importance of encouraging people to set grand goals for themselves—and I have seen this practice bear fruit for teams and individuals alike. Ian Sherlock from Texas Instruments has taught me a lot about consensus-building in the Boardroom. In short, I have truly benefited from an abundance of excellent business role models and their advice.
How do you define success?
I define success as being able to reflect on an endeavor with recognition that we did our best, that we made a positive difference, and that we learned some things we can build upon for the next endeavor.