Monday, January 30, 2023

At first town hall, 18,000 Vodafone employees told to use size, become strongest

Friday, August 31, 2018, 17:45
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NEW DELHI: One-day-old Vodafone Idea made it clear to its 18,000 employees that it may be the largest telecom player in the country, but still needs to become the strongest and that along with opportunities, there is stiff competition.“Vodafone Idea is the largest telecom player; it needs to use its size to become strongest and that is possible by giving customers a fantastic experience,” said Balesh Sharma, chief executive, Vodafone Idea, at a two-hour employee town hall Friday, which was streamed across centres of the newly-merged company.According to employees present at the town hall whom ET spoke to, Sharma pointed out opportunities for the telco amid surging data growth.However, he also said that despite its 408 million active subscribers and a revenue market share of 32.2%, Vodafone Idea has to deal with very strong rivals in an intensely competitive market.Vodafone Idea did not respond to ET’s emailed queries.On Friday evening, chairman of Vodafone Idea, Kumar Mangalam Birla, had a recorded message on the vision and mission of the new operator relayed to the employees, which was followed by recorded messages from outgoing Vodafone Group chief executive Vittorio Colao and Nick Read, who was the chief financial officer for the group and will now take over the reins from Colao.Himanshu Kapania and Sunil Sood, who headed Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, respectively, too had their messages telecast. While the newly-formed, 13-member leadership team spoke about the roadmap ahead in snippets of about a minute each, they also fielded questions from employees.


Akshaya Moondra, chief financial officer (CFO), assuaged all fears that the merged company will be debt-heavy, by saying, “We are not cash constrained.” The new company will start with a debt of Rs 1.09 lakh crore but also with cash balance of Rs 19,300 crore.Analysts say another key aspect that needs immediate attention is how the two telcos with different workplace cultures will amalgamate over time.According to the people familiar with the matter, Suvamoy Roy Choudhury, head, human resources, Vodafone Idea, said, “All employees will be treated with respect.”Both Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, in the runup to the merger, let go of about 5,000 employees. Vodafone Group has also rolled out golden handshakes for good performers who could not be accommodated in the new entity.The gathering had its moments of levity. When asked if the new brand will see the return of popular advertisement characters, the Zoozoos, which promoted Vodafone India, chief marketing officer (CMO) Sashi Shankar said, “Zoo Zoos are a great asset. I would love to see Zoozoos say, ‘What an Idea, Sirjee’.”According to people in the know, the new entity — which has already put out its new website — will come up with a fresh brand campaign in the next few months. “Initial series of campaigns, starting in weeks, will only be on the merger and make the customer aware. As of now, the new company will continue with two-pronged offerings for Idea and Vodafone customers,” said one of the people.

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