You need to know that Jason Hansen is humble and deflects praise.
Despite being named our Independent Technology Executive for 2014, the first thing Conway Corp.’s CTO wants to discuss is “my incredible team [of 17]… They’re incredibly hard working and dedicated… incredibly intelligent, and they make me look good all the time.” He adds, “The team is a credit to upper management who hired them… Our people have customer service on their mind all the time.”
Not everyone is as reluctant to credit Hansen as he is. “Jason leads by example,” says Conway Corp. CEO Richard Arnold. “He has his team focused on improving our services and our customers’ experiences.”
And Hansen is a practical technologist. “If a product isn’t easy to explain and isn’t easy to set up, use and install, it’s not a good product, in my opinion,” he says.
It’s clear why he’s practical: Hansen’s initial choice was to become a teacher. But then came the film Patch Adams. “There’s a scene where they talk about doing what you’re really passionate about. I realized I was passionate about technology and how people can use it to better their lives.” Soon after, Hansen told his fiancé that he would abandon teaching and concentrate on a job somewhere in technology. He joined Conway out of college as a CSR. In 2011 the 15-year Conway veteran became its first Chief Technology Officer.
Good thing for the citizens of Conway, Arkansas, a small but very fast-growing city of 65K, about 30 miles from Little Rock. Unlike many providers who gradually deploy services to parts of their footprint, when municipally owned Conway rolls out a product, it’s available to all customers from day one. Hansen is rightly proud of this. Again, he deflects credit. “This takes additional planning by our team, but they do it every time,” he says. Another factor: “We constantly reinvest in our infrastructure.”
Hansen also is justifiably proud of his team’s speed accomplishments. While Conway’s 17K data customers make it too small to be listed in the Net_ ix ISP Speed Index, its streaming speed is monitored and consistently ranks in the top 10, besting several large providers. “I realize in some
ways our [small] size makes it easier for us to do well on these speed tests, but on the other hand we don’t have the resources that the big boys have to improve speed.” Breaking from his modest demeanor temporarily, Hansen says, “I will pit our network against any of the top MSOs.”
Then there’s the new data center being built “about 100 yards from where I sit today.” It will triple the space for Conway’s technology and withstand natural disasters, including 250-mph winds, Hansen says. The company plans to move an entire headend into the data center in 2015.
A father of three, Hansen is a diehard Chicago Cubs fanatic whose office is filled with baseball bats. But he’s pretty serious when it comes to technology. With three colleges in its footprint, Conway’s demo includes young, tech-savvy professionals who demand cutting-edge services. OnlineUniversities. com named Conway the 6th Geekiest City in America (2011). Hansen also feels heat from older residents, long-time customers who’ve benefitted from Conway being early adopters of broadband and TV Everywhere. “Services have become critical to daily life” in a way they weren’t when Hansen entered the business and the city was one-third the size it is now.
Small independents often have a difficult time staying ahead of the demand for technology. Importantly, Hansen helps advise fellow independents on providing it in a small system. See, Hansen never really left teaching.
Conway Corp. began life in 1928 supplying electricity to
city residents. Video was added in 1980; it now offers
Internet and voice too. It passes 25K HHs and has 18K
In April 1997 Conway Corp became the 3rd U.S. operator
and 5th worldwide to offer cable broadband service.