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20 November 2014
A WIOCC employee from its very earliest days, Ryan Sher, chief operating officer at the company, knows a thing or two about building from the ground up.
ago, nobody had heard of WIOCC, and Sher says that the
company’s position now as "the de facto
wholesaler of capacity and subsea capacity in Africa" is a
WIOCC began as a special investment vehicle on the EASSy cable on the east coast of
Africa, and Sher oversaw its expansion and investment into
other cable systems – such as the EIG and WACS cables, as well as several in Europe
and South Africa – to create the high-capacity network
ring around Africa it has today.
But a more recent milestone for WIOCC was the development of
its African IP network, in which Sher played an instrumental
role. In projects like these, Sher says that initial steps
involve strategising with the company’s CEO, Chis Wood,
to define the specifics of the launch.
"Once we then get approval from the board and from the bank for
the budget, the next phase is then to establish the buying
relationship with our different partners and shareholders,"
"A lot of our shareholders are carriers around Africa and we
are putting a presence in their markets, so we need to make
sure we build trust and a good partnership with them so that we
have that support on the ground," he adds.
Sher is also responsible for deciding which vendor is used for
network deployment and this – paired with the
widespread nature of WIOCC’s shareholders
– means he spends a significant amount of time
travelling to meet these partners and vendors; presenting
concepts, gathering ideas and cementing relationships.
Despite the high-flying nature of his position, Sher works from
his home in Cape Town, South Africa, in what he describes as a
company that is fast becoming virtualised.
WIOCC has a network team based in Nairobi, Kenya, a sales team
in Johannesburg, South Africa, offices in London, UK and
shareholders in nearly every country neighbouring South Africa,
including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
"We are pretty dispersed and in that sense we are almost a
virtual company, because we do a lot of video conferencing to
manage processes," he says. "Equally, all of the people that
report in to me are senior people who can think on their feet
and don’t need as much face-time as more junior
people, and given that they’re based all over the
world, video conferencing works very well."
life in the day,