Another Tech-Tom Learns About Corporate Loyalty The Hard Way

by Travis Mateer

Last November, it was all smiles and congratulatory handshakes from the important people surrounding Tom Stergios as the new digs for Cognizant’s new company, ATG, opened in the Sawmill District.

That’s right, a Tech-Greg was in attendance (Governor Gianforte), along with tech-incubator enthusiast, Seth Bodnar (University of Montana President). What an achievement for humble Tom Stergios who worked so hard to do such great things for the Missoula community, like employ by Dad, Tech-Tom Mateer.

Before getting to THAT Tech-Tom, who had to learn the hard way about corporate loyalty with Sprint, let’s take a look at how Cognizant decided to give Tom Stergios and two other men the boot (emphasis mine):

Multiple sources have confirmed that Tom Stergios, the senior vice president of strategy at Cognizant ATG in Missoula, is no longer with the company as of this week.

At least two other high-level executives are also out at the tech company, which has a new office in the Old Sawmill District. It’s unclear the extent of the job losses or why the decision was made. A request for comment from Cognizant was not immediately returned.

If Cognizant isn’t keen to discuss this, but there’s a story in the Missoulian anyway, then clearly some drama is afoot behind-the-scenes of this BIG corporation Tom Stergios was so proud to sell-out to; a corporation I just wrote about in March. Here’s how the article ends:

In 2022, Cognizant ATG hosted a grand opening for its new Customer Success Campus in the Old Sawmill District, which includes two new buildings.

“Today we are more than 300 employees strong in Missoula and excited to expand into our new state-of-the art facility in the Old Sawmill District,” Stergios said at the time. “It’s incredibly satisfying to see the positive local impacts we’re making, the tech careers we’re fostering, the personal connections being forged, and the way our contributions overall are helping to keep the community vibrant.”

Multiple sources told the Missoulian that Stergios was a well-liked leader at the company, and it appears that his ouster was a Cognizant decision.

Corporations like Cognizant, and the telecommunications company my Dad worked for, Sprint, don’t give a shit about local communities. Nope, the bottomline is the bottomline, something my Dad had to figure out the hard way.

And guess what I just figured out while waiting for a sandwich outside the fancy sandwich shop expanding to another location inside the Cognizant building? I found out that many years ago, just as I was leaving home to attend my first year of college, my Dad and a business journal were using the phone I was “gifted” to make business media content. Or, to put it more crassly, my “gift” was exploited to sell some fucking cell phones. From the link (emphasis mine):

Perhaps it is not surprising that Tom Mateer, Sprint PCS’ Kansas City area vice president, sent his son off to college at the University of Kansas this year with a PCS telephone, and without money to install a phone in his dorm room.

Since I’m not a subscriber, that’s all I could get, but it’s certainly enough to remind me of what was happening around the time I was entering the adult world where you fuck people over or get fucked in order to succeed. Isn’t that about right?

Sprint’s optimism that it could be victorious in the war for digital customers looked much different five years later. Then, after that, T-Mobile swooped in a major merger, leading to the eventual sale of the immense campus built during the 1990’s in the suburbs of Kansas City:

From the link (the image is from a different article):

Wireless carrier Sprint PCS plans to close five of its customer service centers, putting an estimated 3,000 people out of work, the company announced Friday.

The cuts represent about 9 percent of PCS’ work force and follow the layoffs of 6,000 employees and 1,500 contract workers in recent months. Sprint will keep eight PCS call centers open.

Centers in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Fla., and Jacksonville, Fla., will be closed April 16. The center in Lawrence, Kan., will be closed May 31 and a center in Irvine, Calif., will close June 28. About 500 people work at the plant in Lawrence.

Sprint officials sent a written notice to Lawrence Mayor Mike Rundle Friday that operations at the center will be discontinued.

If you think my sour grapes has no potential for larger take aways, you might ALSO think telecommunication technology has been a net positive for society. But has it?

Not to end on an esoteric note, but I’m beginning to have serious spiritual suspicions about the possible ramifications lurking behind the ease in which someone’s thoughts can be electronically sent through the ether in the form of texts and phone calls.

Maybe this observation is just a result of my own inability to manage personal relationships right now, but I’m having a hard time shaking the idea that humans aren’t built to communicate this way, and that by doing so we are allowing other things to have influence.

Instead of ending there, how about some speculation about what these three executives leaving the Cognizant/ATG campus will mean for the tech-sector so desperately sought by the biz-pimps promoting public/private incubator programs, like the one established by Stergios. This comes from the first link in the post:

Not only did Cognizant need more space in which to grow, it also needed a solid pipeline of employees skilled in the world of today’s technology. That proved challenging in the beginning when the company recognized its potential for growth in Missoula but couldn’t find the workers skilled in the field.

To solve the problem, Stergios and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar worked to create a new program that would provide students the skills they needed to succeed at Cognizant. The resulting Aim Higher program has since graduated seven classes and is set to kick off another round.

“One might expect that a university and a business could do something like this, and in three years you might have a program up and running,” Bodnar said. “Well, it was three months later that the Aim Higher program launched. Fast forward to today and we have seven cohorts through that program and more than 150 members of our community working in exciting, high-tech jobs here in Missoula. It’s incredible progress.”

Because of this relationship with the University of Montana, I suspect Stergios or one of the other two executives could land a nice gig somewhere within the University system. Or maybe they could consider investing in NEW MEDIA!

It’s unlikely, but on the off chance, here’s the link to Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), and a link to my about page where the donation button can be found. I’m sure the digital infrastructure could handle a nice five figure donation 😉

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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