Interview with Erkan Akdemir, CEO of Avea
By Tevhid Nazmi Baştürk
When was the most challenging period for your company and how did you overcome it?
The first year I came to Avea, in 2009, alongside the constraints placed on us by the global economic crisis, it was also a difficult year for the sector. We had to deal with organizational and cultural transformations alongside the economic crisis. But here our main focus was to examine our organization and our resources and focus on optimizing our capabilities. We experienced an organizational and cultural transformation. We succeeded in bringing to life our company's goals and strategies in a short and effective way because we prioritized personnel management and generalized the culture of leadership.
When you look at the situation today;
• The Turkish mobile communications sector is a difficult market due to competition and high taxation.
• In this market it can be said that Avea plays a leading role in shaping the competitors. Competition serves, as a power to expand the sector, the state of affairs of this competition along with the regulations that are to be made to the sector will only continue to grow in importance.
• The mobile communications sector, that plays a pivotal role in many other sectors, has the strength to directly affect the country's economy. Thus, it is very important to maintain fair competition within the mobile communications sector, for it is substantially important for the market and for the economy's potential development to support it.
• In this atmosphere, we aim to provide our customers with the best experience by making investments and continuing to grow.
Our shareholders, employees, and our management team were the most significant in overcoming these difficult times.
What are the methods the company uses when hiring staff, specifically when it comes to human resource management?
Our main goal is to add candidates that can accommodate to our company's culture, values and basic competencies to our roster. In a surprise filled, dynamic, and competitive sector, we are a reformist and entertaining company. We look for personalities that have the abilities to support these attributes of ours to add to our roster. That is why we want to work with individuals that are energetic, reformists, brave, internally wanting to write their success stories, open to teamwork and trustworthy. Every employee Avea gains affects their own professional life, the company's goals and ultimately stretching to customer satisfaction. Knowing these goals and responsibilities, our hiring team evaluates candidates justly and with the use of scientific tools.
What are the major factors that contributed to the success of your company?
Avea is a young company that employs young professionals.
With this young and dynamic roster it (Avea) has come into the sector's spotlight, we are living our success story together with our talented youths.
As Avea holds an understanding of humanity as a focal point, we aim to keep the satisfaction of Avea employees at the highest level. It is a difference created by human resources; which we consider it (human resources) to be among the most important basic components that lead to the company achieving its goals.
What are the performance methods used to measure your employees? What are the selection methods of employees?
We have a method of spreading and joining the Avea company goals to groups and individual goals. All of our employees work together hustling to reach the company's goals in accordance with the company report card. We have a translucent work and result oriented performance evaluation system.
When it comes to hiring we have different evaluation methods including; group stress tests, personal tests, and evaluation centers. For some positions within the foundation we choose to promote from within, and for that brought to life the Evaluation Center. Apart from that we also conduct effective 360° polls, to evaluate and help develop the attitudes and abilities of our workers, by enquiring with their managers and coworkers.
With the 4G Internet craze hitting Russia, the United States, and then the UK; do you think that we will see 4g speeds here in Turkey in the near future?
Together with technological developments mobile devices are developing faster. Especially with 3G, the frequency data usage of smartphones quickly advanced. With 4G, users will be able to possess quicker data sharing speeds. Since 3G came late to Turkey in comparison to Europe, operators were thus able to invest in building the foundation on the newest technologies, and by doing so offering a high-speed 3G experience. At the moment quite a few countries are continuing in their preparations for 4G, for a 4G-LTE foundations, the frequency bands designated for operators have to be adjusted to suit 4G. Alongside this it is important for devices that support 4G to become more frequent in the market. We as Avea are continuing our 4G preparations.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring young workers or college students looking to be successful in your field, what would it be?
Constantly develop your self, working hard to create a difference, be determined, patient, and have confidence, clearly seeing opportunities and seizing them, these will help you open the lock to success.
A job you lovingly do will not tire you. A job you lovingly do will introduce you daily to new things.
I wish that every step you take personally and for your career bring you happiness and success.
When comparing the sector in Turkey to those internationally, especially in the United States and the EU, what is the situation of the market in Turkey?
• When we look at the United States and the EU, we see that mobile development is on a small scale. For example in the year 2012 the income development of the mobile sector in the United States was 4%, 2% in Germany, and -7% in France.
• While in Turkey, the mobile market continues to grow quickly, according to the 2012 BTK end of the year reports:
o In 2012 the income of mobile services grew by 11% and amounted to 16.65 billion Turkish Liras (8.8 billion USD).
o While mobile penetration reached 90%. When examining the population, excluding those aged 0-9, mobile penetration is in a position of reaching 107%• The 3G that was launched in Europe in 2003 came to be a reality in Turkey however in 2009. Our data usage and smartphone penetration is rapidly growing.
• The smartphone penetration had reached 20% by the end of 2012.
• As Avea, in 2012 we were the operator that possessed the most rapid data growth income (79%) and highest smartphone penetration (24%).
• In the period that is ahead of us, with Turkey's young population and the consistently growing economy, we believe the growth of the mobile market will continue.
• Alas the Turkish mobile market is left with one last important issue to overcome. "Low Profitability" in comparison to other countries, the Turkish mobile market has one of the lowest EBITDA margins. (This margin being 24% in Turkey, 28% in the United States, and 45% in Germany.)
• For the consistent healthy growth of the Turkish Telecommunications markets this problem must be overrided.
There is a serious interest for mobile technology in Turkey. What effects can this have on the Turkish economy? Can Turkey become a technological base for the area? Or will it remain in the position of just having a strong market?
• As the mobile communications sector grows, the ecosystem it creates allows for the rapid growth and development of other sectors.
• The business models and relations in a globalized world require communications both nationally and internationally. Especially when we consider companies that engage in international trade these needs are more important. Right on this note, the products and services provided by telecommunications companies answer this need.
• Therefore we can comfortably say that the uninterrupted communication provided by telecommunications is in a position of being "facilitator of trade" and "enablers".
• Alongside this in technology and mobile technology related work fields the most important thing is quality human resources. Turkey in this aspect is ahead of its neighboring countries.
• When considering Turkey's mobile penetration (90%) and the amount of Internet users (35M) for mobile companies, Turkey being a Technological hub is not such farfetched.
• Separately, when Turkey's geographic position and hinterland are considered, access to Middle Eastern and European countries is very easy. This special positioning is an advantage to being named a technological hub.
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