To Get Personalised contents and be able to add items to your favourites, please Sign In or Sign Up          

One On One With Mtnís Larry Annetts

News » Lifestyle

24th June 2014

Larry Annetts is the Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria. Larry as he is fondly called, describes himself as Lagos boy, because he was in Nigeria at the beginning, when MTN started. Thereafter, he went on other postings before his recent return to the telecommunications giant.

The easy-going highly cerebral lover of good music, speaks on various issues, especially how MTN has retained its leading position and the company’s consistent investment on improving customer satisfaction.

What was your initial reaction when you heard the news that you were returning to Nigeria as Chief Marketing Officer

I was very excited about returning to Nigeria. I was here at the very beginning in 2001 and was part of the dream to turn MTN Nigeria into the winning operation that it has since become. And I made a lot of friends between 2001 and 2005 when I left for Iran. So, I have always wanted to keep in touch with my friends and most importantly, see them, but you know how difficult these things can get especially as you grow older. You just find that, hard as you may try to get in touch, your friends just seem to drift away, so to speak. So, returning to Lagos was going to provide me an opportunity to reconnect, not only with the network that I was part of, at the start-up, but also with my friends. But, I must say that all the while I was away, I received regular updates about goings on here and most of it was about how things were fast changing in Lagos, with cleaner streets, parks, infrastructure development and the likes. On the professional side, of course, I was excited that 3G was now available in Nigeria and the fact that it would open up a whole new space for operators to play. The Apps industry was still fairly new at the time, so the prospect of expanding the digital services portfolio was very enticing as well.

You were at MTN Nigeria at the very beginning. Tell us about those early days. What were the challenges and what were some of the things you and your team accomplished

The early days were magical. Many people felt totally liberated by the services we provided and were very happy that for once, all you needed to do in order to make a phone call was to reach for your mobile phone in your pocket. Many of us felt very fulfilled to be able to provide such a service, but more importantly, to be on the driver’s seat of an industry that drives social and economic development in so many different ways. We still feel that way, by the way.

It was a much smaller work force in the early days and naturally, the work load was awesome. So ,we worked very, very hard. Then, the billing and technical systems were nowhere as advanced as they are today. So, many of the ideas we conceptualized, sometimes took six to 12 months to materialize. These days, these things happen much faster, as all the engineers need to do is a few configurations.

We have remained true to our strategy from day one. We always wanted to provide the best coverage and continue to be in far more places than others. We have also been the most innovative. We were the first to deliver ringtones and logos to customers’ phones which was quite a novelty at the time. Of course, we were the first to launch GPRS and all the associated services, including vehicle tracking and the likes. We also launched Booster Card at the very beginning of our operation and Booster card was a massive revolution in terms of enhancing access to the GSM technology. If you recall, at the time, GSM penetration was still relatively low as entry costs or total cost of ownership was still relatively high. Then, you would find, “umbrella call centres” all over the place. It was at these call centres that millions of people made and received calls. Practically, all of these call centres used the Booster card, because it effectively made calling much cheaper, especially for those like the business centres who made large volumes of calls. Booster Card was a massive success in Nigeria and it was a master stroke by MTN because we were the only ones who had that kind of product, for more than three years. Later, the competition came up with different variants but none was quite like Booster card and none was anywhere as successful.

We were also the first to introduce multiple tariff plans for customers. So, it was not just a question of being on the pre-paid or post-paid tariff. There were plans for the youth segment of the market, for the upper end of the market, even for SMEs and the likes.

Article Credit: Ovation International

Updated 4 Years ago

Find Us On Facebook

Tags:     Larry Annetts