Turk File

Turk File - February 2010

by Leslie Turk

UL Lafayette spokeswoman Julie Simon-Dronet has joined Cox Louisiana as director of operations for Acadiana, a newly created position.

As part of her duties, Dronet assumes responsibility for building and maintaining Cox’s image and reputation in the six parish region.

“Cox contacted me, and I was intrigued by the opportunity,” Dronet says. “I felt like if I was going to make a move, the Cox organization is very strong,” the 50-year-old continues. Dronet says she was attracted to the company in large part because of its track record for not only success in business but also for strong support of the community, which she witnessed firsthand at UL. “The other advantage is that Cox and the university already have a strong partnership,” she says. “I will continue to be a very strong supporter of the university; it’s my alma mater.”

“With Julie’s lifelong personal and professional devotion to the Acadiana region, she brings unique and valuable perspectives that will further our dedication to customer care, product innovation, community involvement and employee engagement,” Jacqui Vines, senior vice president and general manager for Cox Louisiana, said in making the announcement.

A Maurice native, Dronet served for more than 18 years as the director of communications and marketing for UL. Before joining the university, she was director of marketing at Cypress Hospital.

Dronet, who was making $85,300 a year at UL, confirms that Kathleen Thames, associate director for communications and marketing, will serve as acting director until the university makes a final decision on the position. Because of severe budget cuts, Dronet says, the university has decided to hold off on advertising the position.

Lafayette-based Bizzuka Inc. has been hired by the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to design the airport’s new Web site.

Bizzuka CEO John Munsell says his firm will create a Web site that is not only powerful and efficient, but that also helps position New Orleans as far more than just an entertainment destination. “The airport’s current site was built several years ago using technology which, by today’s standards, is considered outmoded,” Munsell says. “It had none of the technical capabilities needed by a large airport, especially one of Armstrong International Airport’s stature.” The primary goal for the new site was to increase ease of use by patrons, but Munsell says the site itself needed to be more easily managed by airport staff.

The way people use airport Web sites has changed drastically in recent years. “People don’t just go to the site to find out about parking,” says Reed Barnes, webmaster for the airport. “They want to check flight schedules, airfares and even plan trips. We needed a site that could address the needs of today’s tech savvy traveler. Given that Bizzuka had created similar sites for most of Louisiana’s other top airports, we knew they would be the perfect partner for us.”

Carol Skarlat, who worked for 15 years as chief information officer for Motorola’s Global Telecom Business Unit, has joined Stuller Inc. as chief technology officer. Skarlat, who also is a graduate gemologist, describes Stuller as her “dream job,” as it encompasses her passions for both computer science and jewelry.

Also at the Lafayette-based jewelry manufacturer, Harold Dupuy, former executive vice president of marketing and merchandising, is now chief merchandising officer, responsible for managing all merchandising programs for Stuller’s seven business units and the newly added customized jewelry division. Additionally, Stuller’s 30-member marketing division was realigned with the sales division under former EVP of sales Bob Cox, who is now chief sales and marketing officer.

Founded in 1970, Stuller has nine operations located on three continents around the world.

Two former U.S. senators are among the group of presenters who will speak about the value and importance of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana and the nation at the annual meeting of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, March 7-9 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans.

“We have a very exciting agenda, with speakers addressing different issues related to the oil and gas industry, its importance to the state and the challenges facing the industry,” says Chris John, president of the Baton-Rouge-based trade association representing all aspects of the oil and gas industry operating in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking at the March 8 morning session will be former Sens. John Breaux of Louisiana and Trent Lott of Mississippi. Both of the speakers were in the U.S. Senate when John was a congressman from Louisiana’s 7th Congressional District.

“We expect Sens. Breaux and Lott to discuss the changing attitudes in Washington and the increased partisan attitudes that are developing on a growing number of issues,” John says. He stresses that both Breaux and Lott, while members of different parties, were able to work together and with others on finding workable solutions for many complex issues.

Also, Louisiana native Clarence P. Cazalot, the president and CEO of Marathon Oil Corp., will speak at the March 8 morning session. “Mr. Cazalot is a native of New Orleans and graduate of LSU and has enjoyed a life-long career in the oil and gas industry,” says John, also noting that Marathon is in the process of completing a major expansion at its Garyville refinery.

The March 8 banquet speaker is political strategist James Carville, a regular guest on CNN who also teaches political science at Tulane. He and his wife, Mary Matalin, a Republican political consultant, live in New Orleans.

The annual meeting will conclude March 9 with a Legislative Roundtable Discussion. “We have confirmation from several Louisiana legislators who will be taking part in the discussion, with the main topic to be oil and gas,” John adds. The meeting will also feature two receptions, allowing time for people to visit with each other.

Compiled and edited by Leslie Turk; e-mail her at [email protected].