What was your initial reaction when you knew that you would be at the helm of Ooredoo Myanmar?
I was elated. It is a huge honor for me to be given this role. Actually, during the early stages, when we were first bidding, I was involved in the discussions at the Ooredoo headquarters as I was part of the team who was critiquing our bid.
We were divided into teams, weighing the pros and cons of the situation. So, I have a lot of knowledge about business in this part of the world; it was not totally new to me. Since then, I have been following up with the progress. I even got more excited when suddenly I realized that we could actually penetrate this market. Then my boss asked me if I could do it, and here I am now.
Ooredoo is known for its successes in different markets. What do you think is its differentiator? Do you think you will use the same formula here in Myanmar?
We have a track record of focusing on customers. This logic made us successful in other markets. We believe that if we get great people who work together well and they provide a great service, then customers will enjoy it.
Once end users begin to enjoy our services, then they will use our services more and in turn our stakeholders will be happier. The business is a virtuous circle. We focus on the customer experience as we believe it to be the secret of our success. This is exactly what we are doing in Myanmar.
Apart from planning, one of the first things that we are doing is building a distribution network. Building telecommunications networks is about hiring the right people. Basically, we evaluate people not only by their professional capabilities, but also we weigh how their core values are in line with Ooredoo’s values.
Caring, connecting and challenging are our main values. Are they caring about the customers and each other as a team? Do they really like to work with the communities? That is what connecting is all about. Challenges are about how we set the bar high in terms of what we expect our people to do. They get to work, they get to challenge themselves and they get to work in teams effectively. They get to produce something that is really special.
As CEO of a company in its initial stage, what do you think is the biggest challenge of Ooredoo Myanmar today?
At this point, I think our biggest challenge is to do with the permits for building the towers. Land rights are not fully clear in the country. Land ownership is often in doubt. The building permit process is very complicated as there are 12 different types of land use and we need need help from the authorities. It is a big challenge, but the authorities have been very supportive. They promised to help us to get some kind of fast track top down process finalized which would help us to get the building permits at the local government level.
Is that why at you are closely coordinating with government agencies?
Telecommunications development is something new here in Myanmar. We are sticking close to the regulator because they not only need to learn how to regulate the operators, but they need to plan the different steps and stages of the process; they have never done any of this before.
In the old days, there was probably one permit request per a month in each of the major district councils. Even back then, it took a long time to process the very limited requests.
The situation has changed because today they get more than a hundred request per month from us alone. Imagine that these requests are coming from just one operator. So, this is a very big challenge.
What can you tell us about the services you will be offering? Don’t you think the market is not ready for such advanced services, especially 3G services?
First, we looked at the government’s aims as set out in the Information to Tender (ITT), and they were very bold. They wanted to bring Myanmar back to its old glory of being the region’s jewel in terms of telecommunications.
To achieve this, we did some basic market surveys and decided that the market would be successful if we went with a full 3G proposition. It has many benefits because it means we get 3G at 900MHz and 2100MHZ giving us both in-building and wide area coverage. But what is great about this is that for most people it will be their first internet connection, they will own it and, most of all, it will be right in their pocket. That itself is very compelling.
In addition to that, we are in the process of sourcing low cost smartphones that can provide an exciting customer experience at affordable prices. Unlike other places, where SIM cards are exorbitantly priced, customers here will enjoy our service as our SIM cards will most likely be reasonably priced, about 1500 kyat or about $1.50. When I came here six months ago I paid about $140.00 for my SIM.
Based on our market research, we think that there is a pent up demand and that people will be excited about the new internet services. People love social networks; they want to stay in touch with their friends and relatives. A lot of them need mobile phones to help them with their jobs. Entrepreneurs working with the family business can gain significantly with 3G services; these will help them to increase their business.
You have mentioned earlier that in you are setting up your own university. Would you say that this is a bold move on your part? Can you give us more information about the Ooredoo Myanmar University?
Yes, I think that is how we like to do things. I think it is bold. We are going to start the Ooredoo Myanmar University internally and modestly with our own people. We are training them, and from there we will build the planned institution.
We will start developing skills that we will need for Ooredoo Myanmar at Ooredoo Myanmar University. It will definitely be interesting.
We will be working together and partnering with federations, universities and technical colleges. In fact we started doing this when we brought people to the assessment centers. That move in itself was already the fabric of what will become the University. There is also an ongoing training for the people who have recently joined us, and all of this forms part of that program. So, it is already starting but at the moment it is happening internally.
Now internally, any plans of rolling it out for everyone?
Not exactly for everyone, but what we will do is that we will have some kind of joint ventures with further education establishments. When we are ready, we will be delighted to tell you more about the program.
source: Telecom Review Asia