Broaden your horizons

Telecom companies stand to benefit from adopting a more intelligent approach to recruitment, says Richard Guest.

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Broaden your horizons Guest says telecom operators should place more emphasis on transferable skills when recruiting.
By  Richard Guest Published  January 17, 2011

With the diversity of cultures, economies, business practices and challenges across the Middle East and Africa region, one could be forgiven for presuming that organisations throughout the telecoms value-chain would have a predisposition towards hiring adaptable executives and senior managers with broad industry experience, innate talent and inherent leadership attributes.

All too often however, the focus is on highly specific skills, job titles and previous employers directly matching the role they are due to take on. Conversely, multinational corporations in developed markets tend to converge on talent and potential when bringing in key executives from outside the organisation.

Successfully delivering such talent is achieved through an intimate understanding of the organisation’s needs for development in addition to analysing what character traits and leadership styles will flourish in the firm’s corporate culture.

When developing talent within their organisation, there is also a constructive tendency to deliberately encourage progressive employees to prove their capabilities by taking on appointments in businesses and functions outside their comfort-zones, thus honing their leadership skills.

General Electric, under the stewardship of the legendary Jack Welch, is a prime example. Counterparts in emerging markets have been hesitant to seek out or embrace individuals with intangible yet highly influential professional assets, instead resorting to the more obvious and predictable.

While excusable in the embryonic stages of building businesses, a time when technical, operational and tactical strengths are of utmost importance, it is far less understandable in times of greater maturity.

Once the foundations have been laid, and in the face of increased competition and expansion, it is vital for operators, vendors and suppliers of products and services to ensure they innovate and differentiate themselves.

Maintaining the status quo in terms of talent acquisition is unlikely to underpin such attributes and aspirations. Some of the region’s more forward thinking operators are beginning to build benches of ‘executives without portfolio’ to undertake mission-critical strategic projects and, in due course, step in to C-suite roles at group or operating company levels when challenges or requirements arise, something not to be confused with hastily comprised and haphazard ‘group structures’.

In constituting such rosters it is essential to identify those not only with a fundamental and broad understanding of the industry but with the aforementioned innate leadership skills and adaptability.

Certain vendors are also moving away from their propensity to hire only those currently working for their direct competitors in entirely similar roles and responsibilities, a phenomenon that will lead to greater comprehension of their target audience and deeper, more influential relationships with the buyers of their products and services.

A move away from the fixation on subjective matter expertise and like-for-like hires towards more transferable leadership skills can benefit all involved in both the short and long term.

The talent pool will be increased by encompassing the full value chain, seeing greater cross pollination between operators, vendors, consultancies, value-added services providers and media companies, thus affording all constituents a deeper understanding and more holistic view of the industry at large.

It will lessen the dependence of each element on others by building wider in-house expertise resulting in efficiencies and cost reductions. Furthermore the new recruits from divergent parts of the industry, or from outside altogether, will bring fresh perspectives that can foster innovation, implant best practices and reinvigorate teams.
Longer-term benefits of such an ongoing transmission of talents within the regional ecosystem relate to relationships and cultural awareness. In the highest echelons of corporate leadership, relationships play a prominent role in success or failure.

Richard Guest is principal at executive search specialist, Transearch Middle East.

2855 days ago
Sugandh Chaturvedi

In agreement with you. I have seen profile where they specify that if you have been already in retention then the new co will offer you a job in retention. I dount if the employees also want to do the same task over and over again through out the working life.

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