ANALYSIS: Relinquishing traditional wholesale recruitment boundaries

10 September 2014 | Kavit Majithia


In November 2012, Capacity ran a report warning carriers that the talent pool for senior management in wholesale telecoms was running dry.



It urged companies to look beyond the traditional wholesale segment
and deploy a more diverse and imaginative approach to recruitment. Less than two years on, there have been some slow but steady indications that a change to recruitment trends in the wholesale sector is occurring.

As carriers broaden their service portfolios, they are also starting to absorb candidates from new markets. For one, the obvious synergies wholesale shares with enterprise has increased immeasurably as carriers extend their capabilities into areas such as video conferencing and cloud. Likewise, the push from carriers into content delivery and security has brought with it a natural intake of new candidates from different business segments.

“There has certainly been more crossover between the enterprise and carrier segments recently,” noted Aidan Walker, director at Expand, a recruitment firm specialising in the telecoms, technology and digital markets. “Candidates from the enterprise, systems integrators or CDN markets understand networks. The way they sell is different to the wholesale model, but with carriers introducing more of these new services areas, those skills are also required.”

M&A has also played its role in extending the skillsets at carrier organisations. Verizon’s acquisitions of Terremark and EdgeCast, for instance, have landed it expertise in both cloud and CDN, which in the long run could be integrated into its senior management team. The challenge, according to Walker, is for those carriers looking to grow their service areas organically: “If you are acquiring businesses, then you have acquired talent. While those carriers that are building new services themselves need to go out and look for the talent, which can be tough,” said Walker.

At the very top, however, there remains an alarming lack of new blood, where senior executives are almost always replaced like-for-like. A quick glance at CEO appointments this year confirms as much. Mike Milligan stepped down as longstanding CEO at Verizon only to be replaced by another company veteran – Eric Cevis. Bahraini operator Batelco turned to Alan Whelan’s extensive telecoms experience by recently appointing him group CEO, while Reliance chose the experienced hand of Bill Barney to lead its rebranded international arm, Global Cloud Xchange.

“For most SVP roles and executive roles, carriers will ask for someone with wholesale experience. It’s still too risky otherwise,” said Walker.

The industry is in agreement on this point: “For SVP and above, we look across the telecoms and tech industry,” said Tim Passingham, SVP of enterprise, EMEA at Level 3 Communications. “I’m not a fan of recruiting too far off-piste. You need execs that understand the industry, are credible and know how to run the business well.”