After an eight-year journey in various executive roles across US operator Verizon, Sowmyanarayan Sampath (pictured) took over the helm of its business division today (1 July), with a focus across three areas: network-as-a-service; 5G and deepening the company’s culture of execution.

While Verizon Business claims to have a 44 per cent market share in the enterprise and government services sector, Sampath said his priorities included growing its proportion in the face of increased competition from other mobile operators such as T-Mobile US.

In this Q&A, Sampath tells Mobile World Live what his top priorities are and where enterprises are struggling the most on their digital transformation

What are your top goals?
One is to make 5G bigger. For us there are three things to take share in mobility: fixed wireless access, MEC and private networks.

The second one is network-as-a-service (NaaS). Companies are coming under increased cost pressures. Having a single comprehensive NaaS they can rely on brings all of Verizon to bear.

Third is to do with just the operating culture. We are very customer focused, and we’re continuing that, but we’re also bringing a very strong element of leading with kindness.

Prior to being named CEO, you were CRO for Verizon Business, SVP of business transformation, and chief product officer for the Consumer and Enterprise businesses. Did you purposely set out to work across various sectors of Verizon?
No, it was an investment by our chairman and by our board to get me that rounded experience. I’ve touched almost every part of the company in the last eight years and I need to bring that to bear in this role. That’s my mission.

You’ve been involved in some of Verizon’s biggest projects, including OneFiber and network transformation. Is there a particular project that stands out for you?
The recent project that we did, what we call blueprint for growth, is the one I’m most excited about.

With blueprint for growth, we basically decided we’re going to make a market in 5G and we’re going to take share. We’ve taken market share over the last three quarters on the wireless side and we’ve had some pretty large deals on the wireline NaaS side. It’s a complete growth mindset.

What do enterprises tell you that they want? What’s top of mind?
The biggest thing for them is they’re migrating to the cloud at some crazy rate, and more than 40 per cent of cloud migration projects get stalled because they didn’t plan properly for the network.

Step one for them is as they go into their digital journey, as they go through their cloud journey, get the base connectivity and security right. It’s down to the basics, and there’s just a lot of work we’re doing in that space.

There’s an ongoing labour shortage across various industry verticals. What would you tell prospective employees about the benefits of working for a mobile operator?
The good thing about the telecom business is it keeps changing every few years and the technology is the best in class.

This business is the foundation for a lot of other things. For example, if you have an interest in healthcare, this is a good way to understand the foundation of healthcare technology, or manufacturing technology.

It’s a very foundational piece of engineering and technology, and that’s good for everyone.

The second thing is at Verizon is we have meaningful jobs. In other words, you get to work on some of the most cutting-edge technologies, and we give our people lot of responsibility.