This month’s insights from our leaders around the world comes from Jamie Hayes, Managing Director – Streetscape, Fibre & Private Networks at BAI UK.
Before joining BAI, Jamie worked for BT, where he was responsible for BT’s Enterprise Wholesale business towards all mobile network operators. Prior to this, he held roles in Transformation and Sales Engagement Director at Ericsson. He also currently volunteers as a Business Mentor at Be the Business and One Million Mentors, mentoring both business leaders and young people.
What’s the most important development happening in our industry and what does that mean for business?
In our industry and society, the availability of mobile broadband – or vice versa, the inequality of digital resources – is rising in significance as we face into macroeconomic turbulence. Not only driven by the pandemic, but the increasing need for digital skills for countries to compete for inward investment has brought into sharper relief those with gigabit availability in their lives, and those without.
The cost of that service has also spun into sharp relief amidst other rising commodity prices worldwide, and we have seen two decades of diminishing margins for fixed and mobile network operators where buying and running equipment costs has not shrunk as quickly as in previous decades. This hasn’t allowed a fair bet on investment returns, and we are seeing fixed and mobile consolidation, not only convergence, in the market as 5G and gigabit business cases have not materialised as expected.
In the UK, industry and society has now recognised digital availability and the skills to go with it as being an essential, driving economic activity and societal inclusion. Although we have greater than 95% internet availability here, the depth and quality of that infrastructure compares poorly to other rich-world nations; for BAI, as an infrastructure investor that goes to the underserved areas with shared neutral host propositions, our purpose couldn’t be clearer in the current times.
What inspires you most in the work that you do?
I am always inspired by my two daughters’ small steps: their progressive academic or day-to-day achievements in my home life. Like them, I come to work each day knowing that my best work is ahead of me, not looking back on success or failure, but wanting to make a better future for them. So, I prioritise our purpose of improving digital infrastructure for greater equality and inclusion for society. Simply put, I do it for them.
What is a technique you use to be more effective in your work?
It is better to focus on ‘keeping people inspired’ than only on KPIs. I have found that the team that learns it can do amazing work soon learns how good that feels. And that is a feeling they want to feel again and again. I think that doing great work is addictive.
What’s one of the ongoing challenges you face at work and how do you manage it?
The telecoms sector faces a systemic issue with diversity and inclusion; I feel there is an innate bias towards those who are like those that came before in roles. So, if I walk into a boardroom, a call or a site visit and I notice I’m in a group of non-diverse individuals, I will avoid using that forum for decision-making with any lasting impact. For me, I want to see a variety of views, experiences, and opinions, testing and improving any business decision we must make. Until I have that set of views set out and tested in a diverse group, I’ll wait to take key decisions.
What is your advice for proactively managing your career?
Don’t be afraid to approach the most senior leaders, either in your business or digitally. You’d be surprised how many top executives are avoided, rather than approached. Making yourself and your work known is going to help you every time when it comes to advancing your career. The most senior leaders know they have a responsibility to lift others up and build their careers, so take the time to secure a mentor, coach or even just a critical friend, even if putting yourself out there feels uncomfortable. Embrace feedback; it is the only way to learn your influence on others. And the meaning of your communication is the response you get.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career and why?
I have found myself returning many times to the work of Daniel Goleman. Dr Goleman popularised in leadership thinking the now well-known concept of emotional intelligence; his leadership models of ‘democratic’ and ‘visionary’ styles of leadership made a lasting impact on me and I strive each day to return the privilege of leading teams with positive impact from his teachings.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Although I’ve now returned to live in the UK, people might be surprised to know that I have spent a large part of my career overseas. I was on the team responsible for the original iPhone launch in the US, went on to integrate the merged entities of two US mobile network operators with over 6,000 staff, and then worked for several years in Arabic-speaking nations. I consider myself lucky to have experience working internationally, as it broadened my understanding of business, people, and society.