The outgoing Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh, has disclosed that the COVID-19 pandemic represented the most substantial risk to the telecommunications giant’s business throughout his tenure.

Speaking at an event titled ‘Time with Selorm’ held at the MTN House in Accra, Mr. Adadevoh – who has been serving as CEO since 2018 – provided insights into the challenges encountered by MTN Ghana and the broader telecommunications industry in the aftermath of the global health crisis.

“I don’t think we had ever witnessed pressure on the network growing so significantly in such a short timeframe. That was obviously the biggest risk to our business. Is our network going to fall apart? We saw a lot of growth. I mean, I don’t think we’ve experienced that type of growth in one year in terms of traffic demand ever before; at least not in my time. So, that was crazy,” he recalled.

Additionally, Adadevoh, who is moving up to the role of MTN Group’s Chief Commercial Officer, highlighted that the pandemic brought to light certain structural challenges inherent in managing the Ghanaian economy.

“What COVID also taught us,” he said, “was that perhaps our expectations of how much capacity was required to run an economy like Ghana were maybe not ambitious enough.”

According to him, the permanent changes that COVID brought, in terms of people’s adoption of certain tools and working online, have left a lasting impact. “Even though COVID is largely behind us, there is a permanence that it has left behind,” he noted.

Remote work on staff motivation

Adadevoh also gave insights into the company’s strategy for remote work and its effects on staff motivation.

Delving into the group-wide implementation of a ‘hybrid work system’ during the pandemic, he emphasised the flexibility it offered – enabling employees to work two days in the office and three days from home following agreement with their managers.

The move, he said, encourages diversity at work and gender balance.

“That flexibility allows a sense of normalcy, or at least approaches a sense of normalcy, that results in significant motivation for our team-members. People really appreciate the flexibility it gives them. The lessons we learnt after implementing this – and the business’s performance and responsibility people have taken – has reinforced the importance of these types of initiatives,” he stated.

He added: “I know there are different schools of thought around productivity and all that type of stuff. If we look at our productivity numbers – at least what we shared toward the end of last year, our productivity continues to go up. Now, this is not only a result of the hybrid system but also an improvement in our management capabilities and style over time in dealing with the hybrid system to ensure that our productivity continues to rise.

“For me, this is a great thing for the business. From that standpoint, I don’t think we have given up anything in terms of business performance – but we have gained a lot from the benefits, motivation and flexibility that it allows our staff. The feedback we get has been extremely positive.”

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