Our partnership with Ericsson in Singapore
Ericsson is a leading communications equipment provider, with more than 40 per cent of the world's mobile traffic passing through its networks.
The phenomenal global demand for wireless network connections means telecommunications companies are constantly rolling out new technology - such as 4G long-term evolution networks. Ericsson has more than 1,000 networks in 180 countries, including Singapore, where 4G uptake has been particularly strong.
With so many networks to maintain and upgrade in the Southeast Asian country, it is important that Ericsson has access to a pool of experienced project managers and engineers.
Ericsson needs its project leaders to:
- Enhance Singapore's wireless infrastructure
- Work alongside communications service providers such as Singtel
- Hire engineering contractors to ensure the networks are running smoothly
- Delegate troubleshooting duties
- Ensure monthly implementation targets are met
- Make sure budgets are not being exceeded
One of the biggest problems facing Ericsson is skills shortages. There is a lack of suitably experienced contractors who can make an instant impact within the organisation and this is not an issue that is exclusive to Singapore.
How has Michael Bailey Associates helped?
Michael Bailey Associates' Consultant Jibi placed Mathan into a project manager role in Singapore, who was then tasked with adding specialist contractors to his team. Mathan - whose contract started in March 2013 - struck up a strong rapport with Jibi and has made good use of Michael Bailey's consultancy services. Michael Bailey has helped him gain access to qualified technicians, something that he says is easier said than done because of the aforementioned skills gaps.
"The majority of [hires] come from Michael Bailey Associates. You can trust them, there is a good healthy relationship there," he remarked.
"They have a pool of resources and a good base. They can find the right people ... in order to make the project easier."
Mathan was particularly impressed with Michael Bailey's professionalism and has been happy with the standard of contractors hired to date. He was keen to stress that some organisations "do not do their homework" when assigning contractors to certain positions and this causes problems.
"Sometimes you realise you hired the wrong person for the wrong job. [Consultancies] need to spend more time getting the right guys for the right positions," he added.
This, he stated, is not an issue when working alongside Michael Bailey Associates. He added that Michael Bailey took all of the stress out of finding new recruits from other countries. There is always a lot of administration involved when hiring foreign contractors, but he did not have to worry about paperwork or visa applications, as this was all done for him.
Ericsson also hired Sally, a radio frequency consultant, to help with a project in Singapore, through Michael Bailey Associates. She is required to visit sites in order to fix any problems with the systems and her role is critical to the day-to-day running of the company's extensive network.
"I am in charge of the deployment of material based on the requirements on-site," she remarked.
"I prepare the BOQ's (bill of quantities) based on the topology of the network given by the customer and based on TLD (Transmission Link Design), while also reviewing the ATP (Acceptance Test Performance) from contractors before submission to the customer.
"[The role] is very important because the site activities are dependent on the materials and equipment delivered. If the BOQ/delivery is inaccurate then the site activities may be postponed or cancelled, affecting the overall project schedule."
Sally added that she has enough autonomy in her role to do her job without having to constantly answer to the project manager and she said Michael Bailey Associates "definitely helped increase my chances" of securing such an important role with one of the world's largest corporations.
Although it is difficult to put an exact value on the impact these two hires have had on Ericsson's Singapore network project, they have had a pivotal role in helping to make sure everything runs smoothly.
So far, they have managed to:
- Meet Ericsson's monthly targets for system upgrades
- Provide troubleshooting expertise
- Address data tracking system issues
- Make sure all work is completed within a set budget
Mathan has had a major part to play in improving the company's data record tracking systems. These were not in place when he started in the project manager role in March and he insisted that a lot of hard work has gone into ensuring past mistakes are not repeated. His work has helped to give Ericsson's clients a better idea of where they stand financially, he stated.
"The previous team was good technically, but they didn't have a proper data record tracking system to know how many purchase orders they had," he added.
"Some of the sites that we had done did not even have customer purchase orders. Without this, the team is not able to effectively manage its systems."
Looking to the future
Mathan’s contract expires in March 2014 and although there is a chance he may extend his time here, he is keeping his options open.
He has worked for Ericsson in a number of countries and he has enjoyed his time in Singapore to date, although other challenges may await elsewhere. His strong relationship with Michael Bailey Associates means that wherever he finds himself next, he knows he will have support in finding new contractors.
Looking at the wider picture, Ericsson continues to go from strength to strength and the company has completed some important acquisitions in recent months, including the purchase of Microsoft's Mediaroom. A study by Nielsen showed that smartphone penetration in Hong Kong and Singapore stood at 87 per cent in September 2013 - a figure that no other country in the Asia Pacific region came close to matching.
This highlights the enormity of the task facing Ericsson in ensuring network providers are capable of providing Singapore's growing legion of smartphone users with access to fast, reliable wireless connections.