Ian Charles Dench | Chief Executive Officer | Ooredoo Oman

The pandemic has been a toughest test of character and willpower for every human being around the world. In the context of business practices, CEOs have had to deal with extraordinary difficulties as the pandemic has been an ultimate leadership test. “Leadership does not have an end state of proficiency, it’s an evolution and journey that is never complete as it adapts to the changing demands of the time,” says Ian Charles Dench. He is the Chief Executive Officer at Ooredoo Oman and has over 25 years of extensive experience in leading telecommunication companies across Europe, Asia & Middle East. Ian asserts “I draw my inspiration from those experiences, situations, conversations and feedback; both good and bad.”

“The best results come when everyone understands and its committed to the vision. Make that vision clear and short. Check on progress every day”

To learn more about Ian Charles Dench’s journey, let us take a peek into the below interview conducted between Insights Success and Ian Charles Dench:

Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient leader.  

I started out at a very young age (16) with no great plan other than to get a job. I was fortunate to join a great organisation, British Telecom, as an Apprentice Engineer. BT had a tremendous training programme and approach to people development through all stages of their career. This environment allowed me to transition over the preceding years from and entry level position of Technical Apprentice to Senior Management. More importantly, across multiple disciplines from Technology to Commercial from Customer Services to Sales to Marketing to Mergers and Acquisitions, from operations to strategy, and from Domestic to International operations. From fixed to mobile from BT to O2.

I was working in Singapore at the time for a subsidiary of O2 called Genie (and Mobile ASP and Handset business) – I moved to Batelco Bahrain as GM Sales and Marketing. The Batelco CEO was looking for someone to prepare the company for upcoming deregulation and introduction of competition.  I’ve always been drawn to new and unusual challenges and this felt like an opportunity not to be missed drawing on all of my experience to date.

That in turn led to my next move and a position with Qatar Telecom which is now known as Ooredoo. Again, it was ahead of market deregulation and the introduction of competition.

It’s a journey spanning several companies and many countries; a journey of good fortune and long hours. However, it is the people I’ve met along the way that have shaped and influenced me to do better and achieve more and each has left their mark on my own leadership style and approach. Particularly in those early years, it opened my eyes to new horizons and motivated me to take on bigger and bigger challenges.

How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to entice the target audience?

We segment our business in multiple ways depending on the commercial objective. We have fixed and mobile services for Home and Mobile users we have Consumer and Business products and within these two broad categories; we segment further into nationality or business type – small business, for example. Further, still we communicate in multiple languages: Arabic, English, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, etc. For each segment we develop product and service packages to suit their specific requirements, budgets, spending patterns, travel patterns, and we communicate with them in unique ways for each segment in their language. This is the essence of great marketing tailoring the right commercial proposition for the right customers and communicating in the right way at the right time and place. That increasingly means social media and digital channels, and over the last two years our focus has shifted to digital sales channels, digital communications and social media, alongside App and online based customer support. Here even greater degrees of personalisation and targeting are possible and are an ongoing focus of our marketing efforts.

What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

I remember a nice quote about focussing on the goal, not the problem. Far too many leaders are consumed with hurdles and problems. The most successful leaders and entrepreneurs focus on the goal and its achievement.

Moreover, if the goal becomes unrealistic they redefine the goal and, importantly, keep moving forward. This kind of resilience, perseverance and agility are crucial elements of leadership today.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

Make the time and also make commitments. It’s important to set goals and write them down. You will only achieve around half of those that you list, but it gives you a target to aim for and keeps you on track when it comes to balancing your life. Don’t be disappointed by the 50%.

How do you cope with capricious technological trends to boost your personal growth?

I try to read or, if I’m honest, increasingly watch YouTube or listen to podcasts and immerse myself in new trends and technologies and then introduce, or even push, the technology into a work or my personal sphere. Keeping up with what is going on helps you to stay ahead of changing customer needs from a work perspective, as well as keeping you socially connected and relevant.

What are your future endeavours/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?

Staying healthy! Travelling. Hanging out with my family and friends somewhere nice and enjoying nice food. I enjoy the outdoor life here in Oman and my strolls around the golf course, as well as running and use of my home gym, has expanded considerably during COVID.

What advice would you like to give to emerging business leaders?

Listen and learn from others and don’t be afraid to throw yourself in at the deep end (says someone who hates throwing themselves in at the deep end)! Confront your fears do not dwell on, but learn from, mistakes.

Taking the road less travelled, in my experience at least, leads to better outcomes and greater personal satisfaction!

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