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New Verizon Business CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath on winning 5G

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Soumya Narayan Sampathis Executive Vice President of Verizon and CEO of Verizon Business, currently running a $31 billion organization focused on winning 5G. We recently spoke with him about his vision, the state of the industry and what it takes to be a successful leader.

Karen Walker: Congratulations on your new role. Last time we spoke, you said he joined Verizon because he wanted to be in the “business within the business” and to shape the future of the telecommunications industry. In your new role as CEO of Verizon Business, what is your vision for making it happen?

Soumya Narayan Sampath: This business is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Cloud, broadband and mobility he has three big things going on. Most of what’s happening in the tech space has to do with one of these three things. Verizon is involved in these three businesses. From small businesses like the corner pizzeria, to midsize businesses, to the largest companies on the planet, we enable them to participate in their digital journey. COVID-19 has accelerated this, but the reason the change hasn’t happened is because the underlying networks weren’t right. So we are very busy and focused.

Walker: 5G technology underpins some, if not all of these. What is the current state of 5G? When and where is it going?

Sampath: We’re betting our farm on 5G and we’re pretty confident about it. There are three 5G businesses. The first is the mobility business. It’s a mobile phone in our pocket. It’s the tablet, the IoT space. And it’s working. 5G is being introduced into this business faster than 4G. We have been in this business for a long time and continue to gain share in this space while adding capacity.

Then there is the new business called Business Internet or Fixed Wireless Access. Internet was typically provided only on the country’s Eastern Corridor (Amtrak Corridor). This fixed wireless access now uses 5G to deliver business internet across the country. This is a new market relatively close to our space and growing faster than ever.

The third is the entirely new market of mobile edge computing and private networks. It’s about bringing computing to the low-latency area of ​​the network edge. We’ve just entered production, so there’s still work to be done, but we’re building the market from scratch.

Walker: What are some examples of mobile edge customers?

Sampath: This is one of hundreds. One of the most technologically advanced manufacturing facilities in the United States is Corning’s facility in Hickory, North Carolina. We use our mobile edge computing to ensure the quality of very high quality fiber optic cables. They take pictures of different parts of the fiber passing at very high speed and compare them with samples. If they aren’t good, they cut them off. If they are good, they let them pass. In the past, everything had to be batched and then quality controlled afterwards. But now it’s done in real time.

Walker: Are there headwinds in the industry that keep people from accessing 5G?

Sampath: In any deployment, many things have to be put together. You’ve got your network built, your devices ready, you need an application. When all three come together, magic happens. 4G/LTE created trillions of dollars in enterprise value as the network filled devices and applications. 5G is no exception.

We have networks, we have devices, and a lot of work goes into creating use cases and applications.

Walker: Let’s talk leadership with you. Last time we spoke, you said your leadership style is to lead with kindness. I’m sure your employees love it. How important is this in your new position?

Sampath: People like to work with kind people. You don’t have to be an idiot to get things done. But that doesn’t mean we don’t hold people accountable for the consequences. We have incredibly high standards – we are the largest carrier in the world and the benchmark for how a carrier should operate.

Combining the two with a common mission to deliver results has been successful and I will continue to do so.

Walker: When these three elements are built into the system’s DNA, it’s a winning combination. You currently oversee over 22,000 employees, how are you strengthening these capabilities within your wider organization?

Sampath: We start with the concept of shared success. We are a rationally matrixed organization, which is not typical for a large multinational company like ours. The problem is how to keep everyone focused on the right priorities . We do this by sharing our goals for success. We care about four things. Revenue/Revenue Growth, Margin, Product NPS, and Employee Engagement Score.

Everything people do must step through these four things. If these metrics are red, you can’t be in a position to see green on your dashboard.

The second is focus. It sounds basic, but in a big company like ours, the focus is on how to win.

Walker: Before being promoted to CEO, he was a CRO. I see that pattern happening in the industry both from the perspective of the hyper-growth tech companies I work with and large organizations like yours. Your go-to-market skills How has it helped you in this new role?

Sampath: I happened to be a CRO. My background is mainly in product management strategy and business transformation. I also had a stint as CFO. However, I was very enthusiastic about the CRO role because I needed to understand the market and customers better. CROs spend 90% of their time with their customers, so everything you do is seen through that lens. I have a good understanding of what my customers want and what they like, which helps (sometimes a little too much). Still, I think it’s a good thing. Because around me, everything pivots to that view and the customer becomes the center of the organization.

Walker: Do you have any advice for people in large organizations aspiring to your position or another high position in a large company?

Sampath: Advice is a strong word. One suggestion is to take risks early in your career. Each year the cost of taking risks increases exponentially. You need to round yourself up and try to fill different roles. Everyone should be known for something. People often ask me, “How do I get promoted to the next level?” I have done a very good job in my current role. ’ No one gets promoted just because they did a good job in their current role. That’s why you are paid. Find your super power and make the most of it.

Walker: absolutely. One of Dolly Clarke’s books, stand out, is an excellent resource for those looking for it. No one else is going to do it for you.

Sampath: It’s a very competitive landscape. Put yourself in the top right corner of the performance/potential matrix. Keep an eye on both areas, not just your current job.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.