OnQ Blog

How I Became a Techie: Michael Sapos

“The thing I’m most proud of is how we’ve helped veterans through hiring and training. I think it’s one of Qualcomm’s best achievements.” — Michael Sapos

When I was a young boy, I spent hours, even days, playing with erector sets, which consisted of little metal beams, nuts, and bolts (and later, pulleys, gears, and small electric motors). Basically, you could construct anything your mind came up with, tear it apart, and create something new and completely different. And you didn’t have to make something stationery — with the little motors, you could create things like windmills or planes. I’ve built automobiles, towers, homes, and more.

That love for building stayed with me as I went through middle school and high school. I became interested in the science of things and architecture, and I really wanted to be an architect.

There was a Marine Corps training and recruiting depot near my house. One day, I saw some of the Marines training together and was intrigued. At 17 years old, I talked to a Marine Corps recruiter near my house. Early in my senior year, I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. I did really well in communications and technology, which changed my mind about architecture and evolved my interests.

I joined the Marine Corps as a telecommunications wiring engineer. I served four years Active and four years in Reserve. As a field wireman, I offered communication support for my platoon. I was responsible for laying over 12 miles of structured cabling, and providing communication between 35 devices and the command radio ops center in and around two amphibious assault fuel systems. I also monitored the communications control point around the clock.

I left the military in 1992, but it was a struggle to transition back into a civilian career. I didn’t want the same role in a civilian job as what I had in the military. And I never thought I’d replicate the camaraderie, deployments, and action in a civilian career.

When I was deployed in the Gulf War, i did different odd jobs like working in the kitchen. When I was no longer active, I ended up going to a local school in San Diego for my Culinary Arts degree. I worked in a couple different places, including a retirement community in La Jolla as a sous chef.

In 1994, I decided to go back into communications. A temp agency introduced me to a job opportunity at Qualcomm. I found it interesting how some aspects to the job are similar to the military. I still deploy, in a sense. I’ve been to India, Taiwan, and other countries where we’re expanding different projects. There are still challenges, and there’s certainly camaraderie. This job ended up being exactly what I really wanted. It just took me a couple of years to find it.

Now, I’m the Staff Manager of Information Technology at Qualcomm Incorporated. My team is responsible for the physical layer of the IT stack, which includes the copper, fiber optics, and connectivity that provide the links to the networks from any device. We service all of the facilities, offices, labs, and data centers that house the various servers that connect all of the engineering groups, giving them the ability to work locally or remotely. All of these years later, I still tap into my love of architecture, using AutoCAD, an architecture program, to design data centers and lab rooms.

When we’re traveling to other countries, we’re typically doing audits and making sure the design is going as planned. We issue a scope of work that tells vendors which cables they need to run in certain locations as well as what the room design should look like. When we’re on site, we verify that all of those tasks are being done properly, mitigating any issues.

It’s an interesting job because we see everything from the empty dirt lot to when people are physically moving into their offices and starting to work. It’s really rewarding, in that sense, because a lot of the stuff we do is literally from start to finish. That’s why I’ve been here for so long. As of October 31st, I’ve been working at Qualcomm for 22 years.

I’m also the current president of our internal veterans group, QVETS. The organization was founded by Joel Mooney, an army veteran, in 2009. In the beginning, it was a club where we’d meet, share stories, and have that camaraderie we missed from the military. In 2011, Joel asked if I could take the reins and that’s when my interest in QVETS intensified. Since then, we’ve done a lot of community outreach with not only veterans groups, but also the Red Cross and Wreaths Across America. We’ve also brought outside companies, like the VA and CalVets, in to speak with us about veterans’ benefits. We’ll host breakfasts with execs and Qualcomm Executives and QVETS members.

The thing I’m most proud of is how we’ve helped veterans through hiring and training. I think it’s one of Qualcomm’s best achievements.

Michael Sapos is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Staff Manager of Information Technology specializing in structured cabling with Qualcomm Incorporated out of San Diego, California. In this role, Michael coordinates, manages, and leads a team of 11 employees, providing structured cabling project and service support globally. Michael is no stranger to structured cabling, having now spent 22 years in this field with Qualcomm. He spent another 4 years as a 2512 Field Wireman in the Marine Corps where he also served as the only communications support individual for Bulk Fuel Platoon, Combat Service Support Detachment 132, 1 st Force Service Support Group in Operation Desert Shield and Storm. Michael’s varied background in communications and leadership provided the perfect foundation for him to take over the role of QVETS President with Qualcomm’s internal global inclusion and diversity resource group in 2011. 

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