Last week, we shared five of the success lessons from Airtel. As a recap, we looked at how Airtel is action, business and market-oriented as well as its dynamic nature and the great team spirit at the company.
All these attributes make Airtel not only a very successful business, but also a company that many love to work for and many more admire to join and work there.
Today, we continue with the series.
6. Entrepreneurship: One of the values at Airtel is entrepreneurship. Every staff member is called upon to be entrepreneurial in approach to his or her work. This is not limited to those on the commercial front. A case in point was when we had some system challenges because we were using one of the legacy/old systems and that part of the system needed some upgrade. I was reminded to work like an entrepreneur who does the best with what he or she has until the time when he or she has better tools. A business that is driven by an army of entrepreneurs can rarely fail. I had a friend at Airtel who was a director there and now a chief executive officer somewhere else who used to joke, quite rightly, saying: “Airtel is a free university of entrepreneurship. By being here for more than four years, you earn yourself a ‘degree’ in entrepreneurship.”
7. Progressive company: Airtel manages the business of today while very mindful of a ‘different tomorrow.’ That is why they have been investing seriously in their data business because everyone who knows telecoms industry well, knows that data is the future of telecoms. At their recent pre-listing cocktail, Airtel Malawi managing director Charles Kamoto indicated that Airtel invested some K50 billion or so in the last few years to ‘mordenise’ their network and to ensure that all their towers have the fourth generation of technology popularly known as 4G. That is the hallmark of a progressive company and that is one of the keys that make Airtel a company that grows fast and maintains its market leadership.
8. Innovation: When many people hear Airtel, they think of a company that has a strong brand and one that keeps innovating new and exciting products. To maintain that momentum of relevant customer products, you need a deep and broad innovative culture at the company like Airtel does. There is a popular saying: “Innovate or die.” Airtel seems to understand that anthem very well.
9. Fact-based decision making: Most business decisions at Airtel are made based on facts and measurements. All their business is well measured with great many accurate reports from usage of airtime and bundles to customer behaviour on the network as well as how much airtime is bought and used and so on. A culture of good numerical analysis means that the company often makes good and correct decisions that are based on and can be justified by numbers and figures rather than guesswork and intuition only.
10. Group synergies: Airtel is present in 14 countries in Africa with a much bigger presence in India and other parts of Asia. Over time, the company has organised its family of companies in ways that the group synergies make the country operations efficient, effective and placed on a continuous improvement course. A challenge in one market can be a proactive predictor of a challenge in another market—from technology to business even human resource in some cases. The group synergies give Airtel a unique value preposition and leads to great cost efficiencies when applied effectively.
As Malawians consider participating in the historic opportunity to own part of one of the biggest companies in Malawi, I volunteered to share a glimpse of why I personally think that Airtel is a great company and some of the great lessons that I learnt in the eight years that I worked there.
Even if you do not buy the shares, at least you can adapt and apply some of the lessons in your personal and professional lives and you stand a good chance to rise and shine. Good luck!