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Profiles in networking: Lisa Phifer

A summer spent pouring chemicals from big bottles into little bottles was enough experience to convince Lisa Phifer she was more interested in computer networks than becoming a chemist.

Name: Lisa Phifer

Location: Chester Spring, Pa.

Title: Vice president, Core Competence; wireless local area network site expert for

Lisa Phifer, networking expert

Age: 42

Education: Bachelor's degree in computer science, West Chester University; master's degree in computer science, Villanova University.

Years in networking: 20

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Ask Lisa Phifer a question about wireless LANs

How did you get started in the business: In retrospect it was a stroke of good fortune. I accepted a job doing performance measurement on a proprietary network at Burroughs (now Unisys Corporation). As the network evolved, so did my job. And I just kind of took it from there.

First home computer: Atari. I loved it. I was very interested in both writing and playing games.

Toughest networking crisis: I helped to develop an operations support system for video conferencing between schools. One week before school started we discovered that the scheduling system for allocating network resources did not leave enough time between classes for permanent virtual circuit (PVC) tear down and set up. We spent two weeks manually reconfiguring the PVCs every hour and debugging the system every night.

Favorite piece of hardware: My wireless access point. It lets me work from my back deck.

Non-computer jobs: When I was growing up I thought I was going to be a chemist like my dad. My first job in high school was at a chemical company moving chemicals from big to little bottles. I quickly learned that being a chemist was not as exciting as I thought it would be.

Hobbies: Scuba and travel. I try to travel somewhere new every year. I worked teaching in both China and Turkey, where I had some of my most memorable experiences.

Favorite movie: "Risky Business"

Favorite song of all time: Albinoni's "Adagio"

Favorite song at the moment: Sheryl Crow's "Soak up the Sun"

Last book read: "The Beach House," by James Patterson

Favortie Web site: The U.S. Air Web site. When I'm there, it means I'm planning a vacation.

Networking mentor:My business partner Dave Piscitello. He happened to work across the hall from me on my first job. He's always given me career guidance. He's kind of a network visionary. He's very good at seeing where network technology is going.

Best advice for networking managers: Always try a product before you deploy it.

What do you like about this line of work: That things are always changing. There is always a new technology that I've never heard of. One of the reasons that I have the job that I have is because I enjoy learning.

What do you like the least like: The business side of running a small business. You are always on the lookout for new work. I'd rather do the work than figure out how to market myself.

We welcome nominations of your favorite networking experts for this series. Send your suggestions along to Jim Rendon, News Writer

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