Career jolt for Steve Friedman
by Matthew Friedman for Vocal Area Network
Posted July 22, 2019

AtosSteve Friedman, wearer of many hats, is wearing one fewer today, as his sales engineering position at Atos was eliminated on Friday, July 19 as part of a restructuring of the IT services company’s Unified Communications and Collaboration unit.

Friedman, founder and operator of Vocal Area Network since the organization’s inception in 1995, sings bass with the professional octet at St. Michael’s Church and with the Nikolai Kachanov Singers, and supports his wife Julie Siegmund’s jewelry design business--Carnelian Knoll--with technical and schlepping services. He’s the father of two--a son about to start his sophomore year in college and a daughter who’s a rising high school junior--and he’s composed and arranged music for choirs and vocal ensembles.

Music and technology have always been complementary elements in his career. He got his start in the telecommunications business when he took over management of the newly-installed ROLM telephone system at Carnegie Hall, where he worked in the administrative offices for about eighteen months after graduating from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in music. ROLM, then a rapidly-growing Silicon Valley success story, hired him as a customer support representative in May 1984, and he worked most of the following 35 years as a sales engineer for ROLM and its successor companies, including IBM, Siemens, Unify and, most recently, Atos, which acquired Unify’s communications and collaboration portfolio in 2015. “I often found that my experience as a performer was useful in my technology career, especially when it was time to deliver presentations. And, my day job allowed me to pursue my musical interests without having to worry so much about the financial aspects of doing such,” he commented.

Now, despite the sudden change of professional circumstance, Friedman is upbeat. “They let us go with a severance package--for which I’m grateful,” said Friedman, then added jokingly, “and a ‘Medicare for All’ t-shirt.” When asked about what comes next, Friedman said that he is not yet sure. “I do plan to take some time over the remainder of the summer to consider my options, and I’m certainly open to career suggestions,” he noted. “It is an opportunity for at least a partial reinvention.”

Julie Siegmund, Friedman’s wife of 22 years, also expressed optimism about his professional future. “I’m excited to see where this new path takes him, and hope he pursues something that satisfies his soul,” she said. “He’s already done so much with Vocal Area Network and I cannot wait to see what comes next.”


Steve Friedman can be reached at steve.friedman@van.org or via LinkedIn.

Matthew Friedman, son of Steve Friedman, has written for the West Side Rag (most famously for his story about rats in Upper West Side playgrounds, which led to increased anti-rodent funding from the city) and is currently the sports editor for Student Life, the campus newspaper at Washington University in St. Louis.