Career Advice Successful High flyers’ story

Stronger together

Similar to marriage, when two organisations merge to become one, there is the potential for the co-joined entities to become stronger together. However, when a mega-merger brings together more than 20 companies, comprising 40,000 people in 57 countries across five continents — as technology services provider NTT Ltd did last summer — without paying careful attention to structural and cultural adjustments, there is the risk potential for the integrated companies and, employees to lose elements of their identities.

For NTT Ltd Hong Kong and Macau CEO, Steven Medeiros, the mega-merger that brought together NTT Security, NTT Communications, Dimension Data and a host of associated subsidiaries under a single global umbrella brand, the corporate casserole not only created a unique value proposition for the organisation, but also for clients and employees. “Here we were as Dimension Data in Hong Kong and Macau with about 175 employees, and then we rebrand as NTT Ltd, and suddenly become part of a global US $11 billion technology services company,” Medeiros explains. The transformation from a conglomerate of specialised IT services firms to a unified technology managed services partner has created synergies that allow the company to provide customers with end-to-end solutions. At the same time, from the employee perspective, the opportunity to take advantage of NTT’s global footprint to advance or explore new career opportunities has significantly expanded. “Basically, all that employees need to do is to raise their hand and if the request is feasible, things will be done to accommodate their wishes,” says Medeiros.

In total, Asia accounts for about 14,500 of NTTs global headcount. Hong Kong now has about 650 employees, who previously worked in subsidiary companies and operated from seven locations, working together under one roof. Consolidation also means that NTT Ltd’s regional headquarters is based in Singapore, while the global headquarters is based in London, but operates separately from NTT’s Japanese home market.

Aware of the stumbling blocks the gargantuan merger integration process could entail, from a leadership perspective, Medeiros says early planning was initiated to minimise the risk of employees becoming complacent about the value of their contribution or siloed into a role. “We need to continually let employees know they are an important part of the vision and purpose of the organisation,” Medeiros says. “It’s about creating visibility across all lines of the business so that employees feel appreciated, respected, and part of an organisation that’s working towards a shared vision,” he adds. To communicate the “shared vision” and encourage feedback, in addition to coffee corner and town hall meetings and a monthly newsletter, there is the social element of team building to consider. For instance, employee birthdays are celebrated with a cake and office party. “It may seem like a small thing, but celebrating an employee’s birthday is recognition that someone is an individual,” notes Medeiros who earlier in his career held senior leadership and general management roles across the Asia region, in companies including SAP, and Oracle.

Medeiros also prefers to forego the traditional CEO office, choosing instead to work in the general office area. “It’s where you feel the pulse,” he says. If the office pace seems to be slipping into the same rhythm or routine, being immersed in the environment is the best place to “change it up”. “In a constantly evolving world where disruption is everywhere, it’s important not to let things stagnate,” Medeiros explains. The office floor is also where the “shared vision” concept can be motivated to deliver customer-centric services. A prime example includes helping clients to design and manage hybrid cloud environments that span across local data centres, hyper-scale public cloud providers and private cloud environment that intersect and connect multiple lines of businesses.

With the setting up, migrating to, and managing hybrid cloud environments high on the list of priorities for all types of organisations — and likely to remain so for some time — according to Medeiros, for university students with an interest in IT, hybrid cloud is a promising topic to focus on. “Along with cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications, hybrid cloud-related career opportunities are going to be strong for the next fifteen years,” Medeiros predicts.

Meanwhile, focusing on NTT’s Hong Kong and Macau growth potential, Medeiros says that, in addition to recruiting fresh graduates from Hong Kong’s university ecosystem, the organisation is building a pipeline of talent by supporting career growth. Individuals identified as “high potential” employees, for example, can benefit from joining NTT’s “high performer” programme. Participants join specialist training programmes in Barcelona and Tokyo. Furthermore, to help employees learn new skills and expand their career options, NTT recently rolled out its e-Learning, NTT Degreed platform across the region.

Learning new skills to expand career options fits closely with Medeiros own philosophy of “chase as many experience as you possible can, but don’t chase the money”. It was the same philosophy that in 2007 inspired Medeiros to move to Asian from San Francisco. “I was crunching my numbers in the software sales business and living the San Francisco lifestyle, so people asked why I wanted to move to Asia,” says Medeiros who explains that he was motivated to make the move because Asia was where “big things” were happening in his industry. The move saw Medeiros join mobile applications platform provider, Kony Inc, where he successfully led and built the company’s Asia Pacific and Middle East business channels. Growing up swimming and playing water polo, away from work, Medeiros likes to swim in the sea near his home in Shek O. Always looking for a new challenge, starting last year, Medeiros learned the rules and began coaching a sport mainly absent from the San Francisco sporting menu — under 16 junior rugby.