Africa's telecoms chiefs among 100 'most powerful'
Africa's telecoms chiefs have been named among the 100 most powerful people in the industry.
Global Telecoms Business magazine ranked Chris Wood, CEO of Nairobi-based 'carrier's carrier' WIOCC 46th in the Power 100 list, which is compiled every year from nominations by readers of the magazine which include senior executives of the world's major operators.
Over the last three years, WIOCC has invested n EASSy, EIG and WACS as well as access to 50,000km of terrestrial fibre in Africa – providing international and African carriers with connectivity into, out of and within Africa.
The publication cited Wood's “initiative and determination in forging strategic partnerships with major international players including Bharti Airtel, Global Crossing and Interoute, which have extended WIOCC’s end-to-end services globally.”
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He was also recognised for “relentlessly driving the interconnection of WIOCC shareholder and partner networks, creating the largest terrestrial fibre footprint in southern and eastern Africa.”
As well as leading WIOCC, Wood was appointed Chairman of EASSy in August 2011, helping to securre the system upgrade that will make EASSy the largest provider of capacity into sub-Saharan Africa, which is expected to be operational at the beginning of next year.
Chris is the highest-ranked executive from an African business in the Power 100 – the others are MTN’s Sifiso Dbengwa (#67), Hannes van Rensberg (#82) from Fundamo and MTN’s Christian de Faria (#83).
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5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.