Suzanne Brannan: Client Account Director EMEA
What’s your background?
I spent over 15 years working on the global side of BT having joined the European headquarters in Paris during the set up phase. I worked in the commercial contracts team and for the first few years had responsibility for setting up and the auditing the quality management systems across Europe (8 locations) and in Asia (3 locations). During the mid 90s BT Europe started looking into inorganic growth and so I became involved in establishing the distribution arrangements between BT and its joint ventures/subsidiaries across Europe (this included Telfort, Viag Interkom, Sunrise, Telenordia). Once these relationships were established I ran the commercial contracts team responsible for all non-standard bid arrangements between the joint ventures, BT and its subsidiaries. The bids varied in complexity and financial value quite dramatically and we could be dealing with over 100 a week. I had sign off responsibility of £1million.
My last 6 years in BT were spent in Global Sales – first working as Senior Account Manager on the Citigroup account and then as Global Account Director for Thomson Corporation.
In 2005 I left BT and took several years out of telecoms to be with my family. During this time I did a degree in modern languages; taught French and Spanish in primary school and privately for over 5 years, set up a contract management company, and wrote some language books.
How did you get into recruitment?
I used to sit on the other side of the desk and would get frustrated when recruiters called purely interested in current resourcing opportunities. Nobody seemed to be passionate about the telecoms market or about long term relationships. This frustration continued when I decided to get back into telecoms last year and was contacted by a number of agencies :one of the first questions being “have you got any sales experience?” When David Lawrence called the conversation was completely different and we shared very similar ideas and aspirations. He was highly knowledgeable about what was happening within the telecoms industry, understood that good relationships are paramount but can take a long time to build and that integrity is key to being successful.
Obviously people are an integral part of the success of every business and so there will always be a place for delivery and relationship focussed recruiters : I just felt that with my experience I had something of value to add to Vine Resources whilst being a part of the telecoms industry.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for clients in the Telecoms market in 2014?
Consumers are driving the need for permanent high speed connectivity, irrespective of location and content usage. The availability and quality of high speed mobile connections will continue to be tested by the continual demand for high bandwidth applications such as video streaming and gaming. So long as connectivity isn’t an issue then mobile will remain at the leading edge of innovation that crosses virtually every industry and sector. Almost everything has a connectivity element to it – which is what sets the stage for M2M growth. There is vast opportunity to connect almost everything at both the consumer and enterprise levels. There is absolutely no room for complacency : Telecom companies need to invest – expanding their footprint, updating technology and infrastructure and hiring the right people at the right time to drive the business forward; embrace change and keep meeting and exceeding consumer demand.
What’s a normal day like for you?
Just like anyone working in a busy environment, there are certain things I try to achieve every day to ensure that I stay in control. Most of my day is spent both developing and maintaining good client relationships. At the beginning of each week, I map out what I have to achieve during the week and each day I review where I am at. I get involved in setting up new relationships with clients which means reviewing a lot of terms and conditions as well as working out who I should be talking to within each line of business.
Our focus market can be quite complicated to understand as all our clients are within the telecoms space: whether operators; vendors or consultancies. This means that at one location (building) I could be interfacing with multiple customers and we could have contractors working through different routes on exactly the same project. Market knowledge, commercial acumen and good contacts are therefore very important.
It is always best to get a face to face meeting as early as possible in the relationship to really understand how things work so it doesn’t matter how busy I am I will always make time to meet clients for a coffee. In my experience, this is the best way to find out what is going on, build up trust (alongside effective delivery) and see how we can support their business.
I can say without hesitation that not one day is the same in this business. The feeling of signing up a large framework agreement or going on a preferred supplier list after months of hard work is amazing, but it doesn’t beat the sense of achievement felt when we receive requirements we know we can fill with very good candidates. Having said that we are in the people business so it is not always straightforward : people change their minds after committing to something and ineffective/lengthy processes (written by people) can have a detrimental impact on the recruitment process.
I probably spend one day a week in the London office, one day at home and the rest of the time working at client sites in the UK or abroad. Good communication with the rest of the Vine team is crucial so that we avoid duplication and don’t miss anything. I rely heavily on 3G/WIFI networks and struggle (as highlighted in my recent blog post about WIFI on the Eurostar) when I can’t get a connection.
When you’re not working what do you enjoy getting up to?
I love spending time with my family and catching up with friends. I enjoy trying new things, seeing new places and setting myself new challenges.
Source: Vine 16