Changes and challenges in wholesale recruitment

Erin Santos, executive consultant at specialist telecoms recruitment agency Wenham Carter, talks to Capacity about recruiting in the niche arena of wholesale telecoms, and its development over the next few years.



Q: What attracts people to start a career in wholesale telecoms?

I think wholesale telecoms can often be more international than working in enterprise or working in B2C, so it’s quite attractive from that point of view. Telecommunications in general is quite an exciting industry to be in because there’s so much innovation going on, and there’s a lot of competition.

There’s always new products coming to the market and it’s very much something that people talk about - everyone

has an opinion, everyone has a phone, and it’s generally thought of in quite positive terms.


Q: Will some of the new technologies and services that are emerging on the market, such as IPX and 100G, influence recruitment?

Yes it will, because within wholesale you need people who have a specific skill set.

A lot of recruiters don’t understand what wholesale is in the first place so wouldn’t necessarily be able to immediately differentiate between a traditional B2B salesperson, a B2C salesperson and a wholesale salesperson.

Within that you then have the different product streams. We have a specialist mobile money recruitment consultant and I personally focus on both wholesale voice and data. As our clients become more specialised, so do we.

Q: Is the industry’s move towards IP having an impact on recruitment? 

I don’t think so. What we hear a lot is the eternal question “is voice dead?” And it’s not. There are still massive revenues to have, there are lots of new VoIP providers, calling card companies, wholesale voice companies - it’s still going.

There is very little margin in it but if a company can find a way to make profit from that, then brilliant. It’s maybe seen as more sexy to work in IP and data, or perhaps even on the CDN side, which is now often classed under wholesale in a lot of organisations.

And while it is true that with IP and data there are potentially a wider range of solutions and services that you can offer, there are plenty of very strong voice people out there and lots of companies who still want them.


Q: Are you seeing a larger number of women joining the wholesale telecoms industry?

Wholesale is very male orientated and its fantastic to see women in senior level positions within that space, such as Beatriz Butsana-Sita at BT. I would say that as a general rule women are underrepresented, especially within technical staff. Finding a technical female within the wholesale orientated environment is like hens teeth, they just don’t exist. I think a lot of my clients want to have a more balanced team, but whether that’s available to them is a completely different matter. I would say that as a general rule women are underrepresented, especially if you’re looking within the technical community. There is definitely a lean towards wanting to have a more balanced work force, whether that be in levels of experience or in gender, but it’s difficult to supply if the people aren’t there. I think it’s inevitable that it’s going to change.

Traditionally there were fewer women in the workplace but that’s such an outdated thing now - there are just as many women in the workforce as there are men. Therefore there’s nothing to stop more women from being in wholesale. I definitely see more coming into the industry than there were five years ago.


Q: What potential challenges do you see in wholesale recruitment over the coming years?

Because there’s so much consolidation going on, we’re finding that we have a higher proportion than usual of senior contacts that, as a result of various buyouts, mergers and consolidations, are now on the market when they wouldn’t necessarily have been otherwise.

There’s some very good talent out there but without market diversification and without new companies needing to bring those people on board, one of the trends we’re finding is that there are more candidates looking than there are senior level roles.

What we’re also finding when we speak to C-level executives within the wholesale space is that there aren’t many people that focus specifically on recruitment in the wholesale telecommunications industry.

A lot of companies will have their preferred suppliers which may be very good regionally or within a specific function, but actually getting the word out that we specialise in the wholesale industry can add massive value to our clients’ organisations in terms of the relationships and networks that we have.

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