Industry Voices

Leading a transformation

Nick Gunga, TalkTalk

In the final part of the Stay Connected series, Nick Gunga, TalkTalk’s managing director of wholesale services, writes about the importance of adaptation and leadership during a rebrand – and pandemic

Looking back over my 17-year career at TalkTalk, change has been the one constant, but it’s the past two years that really stand out. I became managing director of TalkTalk Wholesale Services in January of last year, leading the business unit through a rebranding and a period of transition, as well as a global pandemic that changed how connectivity is consumed.

I’ve spent my career in telecommunications working across everything from sales and customer service to digital transformation and operations. I’ve seen a vast amount of change during that time, but the changes we’re living through now feel more exciting. We’re experiencing the biggest infrastructure transformation in 100 years as the UK switches from copper to full fibre, and I’m proud to be able to play a part in leading our division through that.

Time for change

I’m a big believer in controlling the controllable: it’s an approach that I tell my employees to use all the time. If we all focus our energies on the specific things that we can do in line with our company values, then collectively we begin to move in the same direction with the same goals in mind.

Your individual and collective values are tested in extreme circumstances, such as the situation we’ve been living through during the past two years. As a business, at the start of 2021 we recognised that our values needed to change to reflect our shift in priorities and new sense of purpose. Values aren’t just words, they’re the fundamental qualities we chose to embody, the kind of people we want to be, our beliefs and our core driving forces.

As a leadership group we met and consulted with our colleagues across the business to understand their priorities and listen to what they thought our company’s values should be. What came out of these discussions were three simple statements that apply across all areas of our business: We care. We challenge. We commit. We care about hugely about our partners; we want to be easy to do business with, we’ve always been a challenger brand and we’ll continue to challenge the status quo to get the best outcomes for our partners, and we’re committed to their best interests and success. These values shape the way I lead.

Adapt to thrive

My focus throughout this transitional period has been to re-establish TalkTalk Wholesale Services as the largest wholesaler of broadband connectivity in Britain. Splitting TalkTalk Wholesale Services away from TalkTalk Business was a pivotal moment, so we brought our partners and customers on the journey with us. Our employer net promoter score is at a record high level for the division and our customer satisfaction score is number one in the industry. What sets us apart is the way that we’re able to work dynamically with our partners and focus on a purpose. This is something I try to get across in my own personal leadership style. I’m passionate about our customers and the relationships we have, which then trickles down through our organisation in every area. A big focus for me right now is bringing the full suite of services we offer into one place. By doing this we can help reduce the complexity our partners’ sometimes face in delivering products to their end clients smoothly.

My advice to other leaders is do not underestimate the importance of overcommunicating. Managing change in any organisation presents a challenge, but consistent and clear messaging helps to reinforce your collective vision and makes sure everyone is on the same page. The pandemic has proved this. My leadership style has evolved to make sure that I’m always listening and responding to situations with our values in mind, allowing us to keep our focus. A good example of this would be the virtual events we’ve held to keep up our engagement with partners – one of which was our most attended event ever.

The future of connectivity is exciting, with all roads loading to full fibre. I believe that great connectivity is a right, not a privilege. That’s why we’re focused on working with alternative networks (altnets) to challenge the status quo and simplify the process for our partners. We have the brand – simple, reliable and fair – and now we have our values to help drive our success. Our combined sense of purpose will allow us to continue to support our partners and customers as we all leap into a full fibre future.

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