The Cloud Communications division is celebrating its first year as part of NTT Ltd. and looking ahead to Year Two. In this second part of our virtual roundtable chat with members of our Senior Management Team we look at highlights of the year gone by, and priorities for the year ahead. And for more personal insights we also hear about how they coped with working remotely for so many of the past twelve months. You can read the first part of this feature but do read here on for more of the Team’s personal and professional perspectives.
Key to participants:
Emmanuel Allanos, Chief Human Resources Officer (EA)
Fiona Lodge, Chief Product & Strategy Officer (FL)
Florence Mas-Pastor, Chief Legal Officer (FM-P)
Scott McMaster, Managing Director, Americas (SM)
Vianney Motte, Chief Financial Officer (VM)
Andrew Pearce, Managing Director EMEA (AP)
Christophe Reyes, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer (CR)
Jean Turgeon, Chief Technology and Information Officer (JT)
Alan Baldwin, Managing Director, Applicable (AB)
What for you, professionally, has been the highlight of the past year?
SM: There have been many highlights over the past year. However, the biggest for me was seeing how the entire Cloud Communications division rallied for our clients when the COVID pandemic hit.
CR: For me, it’s the growing number of joint sales opportunities. There’s no doubting the powerful impact of the NTT brand. We are now in a stronger position to provide our services to bigger clients together with other NTT Ltd. services that they need.
AP: From a people perspective, it’s the ongoing togetherness of the team that stands out. It’s been remarkable despite the extremely limited face-to-face interactions that have been possible.
VM: Same sentiment here: everyone’s capacity to deal with the new way of working has been incredible. Across the board, people have pushed the boundaries and – in Finance – really made it seamless for us.
AB: There’s no doubt for me: the commitment and support shown by everyone at Applicable during this unprecedented time has been key. Across the management team and throughout the wider Applicable team, we’ve achieved something very special together.
FL: For me, it’s how our new Product Lifecycle Management framework has matured and come into its own. We’ve had several program iterations and each time, we’ve got better. We’re more consistent at driving our roadmaps, delivering quality products, and improving our customer experience. I’m so proud of my team and the spirit we’ve embedded in all that we do, and grateful to each of our MUs (market units) for their input and feedback. It’s really helped us drive these continual improvements in how we plan, prioritize, and execute.
JT: Apart from meeting the COVID challenges, as already discussed, I’d highlight the considerable changes we’ve made to our technical organizational structure to drive higher level of consistency of services and efficiency. I’m very pleased with the way everyone in my team embraced those changes, with true commitment and energy.
How did you find working remotely? What have you learned from the experience?
CR: I found it quite easy from a practical point of view thanks to having a comfortable working environment at home and the right tools for communicating and collaborating! From a psychological point of view though, after several months isolated at home, I began to feel challenges with ‘always online’ syndrome. You’re working on many different and complex projects and dealing with collapse of social and face-to-face informal interactions at work. It’s taught me the importance of face-to-face interactions with colleagues. You need to keep that tribal belonging feeling that’s so necessary for business performance. As and when work-from-home guidelines are behind us, I’d strongly recommend to everyone to allocate times for working in the office and making time for face-to-face interactions with colleagues. And informal interactions too: allowing time for non-scheduled project meetings.
SM: Without a doubt, remote working has its positives and negatives. Over the past six months it’s been important for me to proactively connect with people on an ad hoc basis. It’s been key to maintaining open communications, executing our strategy, and ensuring people are updated on the business. Personally, I’m looking forward to spending more time in the office with colleagues. It’s this environment that fuels our culture and drives our business forward.
AP: In the first few months we were all so busy but as workloads have become more normal, there’s a need for greater personal motivation and self-discipline. Furthermore, having been into the office a few times – even though there were typically only about ten people present – the pleasure and value in spending time face to face together was massive and felt like a treat!
VM: It’s not been a new experience for me: I live in New York City, and working from here have become very used to remote collaboration. It’s interesting to hear others’ experiences are not so different to my own!
JT: It’s similar for me. I was already a home worker when I joined the company in January. I’d planned to meet with everyone in person but, sadly, the travel freeze prevented it. It’s clear though that everyone has been motivated and disciplined. They’ve delivered whilst working 100% from home. Yet, I’m very conscious that, in many ways, remote working can mean more effort and longer days. There can be more back-to-back meetings, less informal discussions, and perhaps less breaks. So, it’s important that we all find our own ways to maintain our energy levels, motivation and focus. On my part, I try to be as involved as possible on key projects, and I also hold a monthly ‘all-hands’ meeting to review our strategy and objectives, share progress and answer questions.
FM-P: It’s odd in some ways: although we had a ‘Work from Home’ scheme in place for several years before COVID, I almost never worked this way. Since COVID, I do it more of course, and enjoy it. Work-from-home days are particularly useful when you need to work on projects that need concentration without interruption.
AB: We’ve always had a flexible approach to working remotely, and I’m fortunate to have space at home. But it’s different when everyone is remote, 100% of the time. We’ve learned that it’s important to keep informal meetings going to bridge the gaps and stay in contact. And not just about work, we keep in touch with what’s going on in people’s lives outside the office routine – just as you would if you were meeting face-to-face. We’ve done morning coffee, afternoon tea, and even Friday evening at the pub catch-ups online, and it’s worked well.
FL: It’s funny. I thought remote working would be easy for me, as I’ve been a home worker and ‘road warrior’ for over a decade now. It wasn’t as easy as I thought though – bringing together a highly-distributed team and keeping everyone aligned through all the changes we’ve been driving, across all the different time zones, has probably been my toughest personal challenge and led to a number of months of really long work days for a lot of people. Things are starting to get a little easier for all of us, I think, and these are some of things I’ve learned. Firstly. video really does make a huge difference in maintaining relationships over distance. Use it if you can. That said, video fatigue is real, so switching off video for every fourth meeting is a great way to reduce the strain of always being ‘on’. Finally, you must – as best you can – create some level of separation between ‘where’ you work and ‘where’ you live. It’s an important state of mind to retain for work/life balance.
What are your priorities? What are you most excited about for Year Two of the Cloud Communications division?
CR: So many important foundations were established in year one. But getting to the point where one and one can make three is really what is exciting for our second year. So, I have two priorities: Firstly, to fully enable our salesforce to be credible experts of both the Cloud Communications value proposition and the extended solutions within NTT Ltd. And secondly, to eliminate the remaining structural obstacles between the Cloud Communications division and NTT Ltd. and ensure our go-to-market as One NTT.
FL: Year Two is when we’ll see NTT Ltd. really embrace all our service products: their excitement about our products and the value they bring to NTT’s customers is palpable and we’re seeing our pipeline start to fill with opportunities they’re bringing us. We’ve been structuring our teams and products to be ready for growth, we’re investing in automation and we’ve become more agile and predictable in how we execute. So, we’re ready. Bring it on! Year Two is also when we’ll start to leverage some of the great innovations we’ve been working on with the Technology and Information team – some cool new features and capabilities that will really differentiate us and strengthen our value propositions to large enterprises. It’s all very exciting!
SM: It certainly is. Over the past 12 months we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and effort setting up the foundations and plans for our joint NTT go-to-market strategy. Although there have been many achievements and we are receiving great feedback from the market, we really have just begun the journey and I’m excited by the opportunity moving forward. The main priorities for the Americas are: 1) to continue working with NTT Ltd. to drive our joint success in the market; 2) to continue transforming all functions to deliver the best customer experience; 3) to educate and support the market with the shift to virtual and hybrid digital events.
AB: The demand for Unified Communications is stronger than ever, and the world will always work differently now than how it did before the pandemic. At Applicable, we need to keep pace with demand and evolve our offers to ensure we stay relevant. Year Two will see us strengthen our performance as a group in new technology solutions and build on our experience to deliver real growth in customers. Our evolution from legacy services is a key priority and the year ahead will undoubtedly be an exciting time.
AP: My priorities, are primarily two-fold: firstly, as COVID-related restrictions tighten we need to ensure we maintain our productivity and efficiency; we could be set for an even longer period of remote working than we imagine. Secondly, and with such great opportunities ahead of us, to foster even more cooperative relationships with the bigger NTT family.
VM: Yes, that’s pretty much it for me. I’m greatly looking forward to further cooperation and integration with my colleagues in NTT Ltd.
FM-P: And likewise. As part of NTT Ltd, our legal team are joining a much bigger legal community, which should be very helpful.
JT: Again, from a technology point of view, it’s been great to be part of NTT Ltd. It’s brought great opportunities with some key partnerships signed at group level; the strategic partnership with Microsoft is a great example of this. It’s also enabled us to tap into NTT’s purchasing power and negotiate some great deals with suppliers. I’m looking forward to even greater integration and to developing some of the technological innovations we’ve been studying. There are some great opportunities ahead.
EA: This second year will be my first with the business, because I only joined a few weeks ago. But I can certainly give you a flavour of three of my upcoming priorities. Firstly, developing our HR roadmap; considering our business strategy, global and local challenges, employee survey results, and much more besides. Secondly, to support the business strategy and transformation through talent acquisition, people learning and development, team’s engagement and capabilities, organizational sustainability, internal communication, and company culture. Last, but not least, to strengthen and unify our HR policies, practices, and organization.
Overall, my priority is to directly contribute to business growth and provide the best possible employee experience for our global workforce. It’s an exciting opportunity, and like everyone else, I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Missed part one? One year on: unified and uniquely set for the future