In part two of this article, we interviewed Rob Willcock, President Americas at Orange Business Services in Atlanta. He was previously the Managing Director and Head of UK and Ireland at Orange Business Services and has an extensive background in transformational and complex customer programs.
In this interview, we will learn more about the employee and customer engagement models for enterprise digitization and the related organizational development in the Americas.
Building a digitally savvy and customer-oriented organization
Question: What are the core values you emphasize in your organization’s development to create a customer-centric business?
Answer: We’ve developed a new set of core behaviors that we want people to demonstrate for achieving success. The five Star Behaviors are:
- Be innovative: Agile, knowledgeable, taking conscious risks
- Be accountable: No broken promises, taking ownership, dedication, discipline
- Be customer focused: Focused on the customer first, simplicity, sense of urgency
- Be team orientated: Collaboration, transparency, trust, give thanks
- Be energetic: Drive to win, passionate, positive, just do it
We want people to act as if they are the owner of Orange, i.e., ‟You make decisions – this is your business – keep in mind that customer-centric focus is key to success.” For the empowerment, we encourage our employees to be accountable, keep a sense of urgency, think outside the box and be innovative. When we launched the five Star Behaviors program, each of us in the leadership team made a video using the keywords to inspire our internal teams.
Question: What development areas and programs do you prioritize to help employees embrace the Internet of Enterprises Era?
Answer: I will highlight two essential areas that we have adopted:
We have a Talent Program with a small focus group of participants. The selected employees are from various areas of the business and have been identified as potential future leaders of the company. We offer the participants to go to Stanford University as a team for a design-thinking course and to visit Orange Silicon Valley for a day to see the theory in practice. Our Talents also receive 360 degree coaching and get mentored by an AME regional executive. In addition, I meet with each participant throughout the year.
We recently revised the Talent Program format with more investment in the program and giving each participant more focus. We have received excellent feedback from the participants, especially on these Stanford and Orange Silicon Valley sessions. We want to make the right decisions about people we consider to have great potential.
The second essential area we address is organizational training. We used to run one to two days of training linked with our annual Sales Kickoff event. The challenge is that our Kickoff is already during the new financial year, so it is not optimal timing for the full-year cycle. Now we gather Sales and Presales together for one week of training in October and focus on areas we believe are essential for the coming year. This enables us to start the new year fully prepared for an earlier impact.
We have already started planning our training for this year. It is an investment to gather more than one hundred people in one location. Two years ago, everybody in our leadership team contributed to the sales training, e.g., the Heads of Commercial, Legal, Major Programs, Solutions and Sales, and I lead sessions as well. This year the program is more focused on solutions, such as SD-WAN, security, MSI and others. We will also review successful business case studies. Throughout the year, we have our digital training programs, including scheduled webinars and Orange online training.
Question: How do you personally keep up with the speed of change that is happening with the enterprise market today?
Answer: As an example, I go with our Group’s senior executives to the U.S. West Coast to visit the CEOs of our major partners, such as Cisco, Riverbed, Splunk, Microsoft and Zscaler. The meetings are interesting because we get a view of the roadmaps and understanding of common challenges – ultimately co-developing solutions that meet the needs of the enterprise market today.
We also learn a lot from our very innovative customers – some of the biggest companies in the world. Developing global solutions with them helps us with other customers as well. We have co-innovation programs with our customers that leverage the Orange Labs in Silicon Valley and around the world. Technology is moving so fast now that we have more frequent visits at all levels of the organization to keep up with the required strategic alignment and planning. What goes on, for example, in Silicon Valley is impacting our customers as we speak, i.e., Robotic Process Automation, AI, analytics, Machine Learning, etc.
Another important area for me is keeping up to date with what is happening in other areas of our own company. Orange is a global leader in innovation, R&D and development of the latest digital solutions. We leverage that expertise here in the Americas for the benefit of our customers.
Question: Who is your favorite idol, or are there any particular experiences that have influenced your leadership style?
Answer: What comes to my mind is the National Geographic documentary about Alex Honnold, who free climbed the El Capitan (a 3,000-foot granite wall in Yosemite, CA). His achievement was scary and amazing to watch. How somebody can do that with all that confidence and calmness and remove fear entirely from what they are doing is impressive. My leadership style has been more influenced by being an officer in the British Army and the related methodology. In terms of what Alex Hammond demonstrated, it would be remarkable to be free of fear, get every move right and understand the consequences of every step you take.
Question: Based on your current experience, how would you advise leaders who have an opportunity for a relocation/overseas engagement?
- Enjoy it! Overseas engagement is a great experience
- Make sure your family wants to do it with you as my family did. Always look after your children and spouse, they need to come first
- Use the corporate facilities that are there for your support. There is typically somebody who helps with the logistics and practicalities of getting settled
- I would recommend touching base with somebody who has done a similar relocation to the country. They will have so much more experience about the everyday things, e.g., how to get a car, get a license and get other permits
Digital transformation encompasses a comprehensive approach to how people, businesses and ecosystems embrace current and future technologies and skills. The on-demand working place incorporates the best of cognitive skills and automation. Leadership needs to be ready to personally invest time in ensuring that organizations are innovative, creative and prepared to execute new designs with emerging technology trends. Engaging customers requires digital and social empowerment.
Thank you, Rob, for sharing great insights about organizational agility and how to prepare for the next waves of enterprise development, enhancing the customer journey.
Rob Willcock is President of the Americas for Orange Business Services. He leads the company’s enterprise activities across North and Latin America, positioning Orange Business Services as a trusted partner in the digital transformation of multinational corporations. Rob has more than 20 years of business and technology experience in the telecommunications industry encompassing consulting, business development and global customer programs across multiple regions. He was previously the Country Manager for Orange Business Services in the UK and Ireland, and Vice President of the Orange European customer division. Rob is a member of the International Business Leadership Team at Orange and chairs the Americas Customer Advisory Board.