Interview with Eng. Muna Al Hashemi, BATELCO Bahrain CEO
Eng. Muna Al Hashemi, the CEO of Batelco Bahrain, has been in the role of revolutionizing the communications sector in the Kingdom for more than two decades. She has been named on the Forbes Middle East’s list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Businesswomen 2017.
Gulf Insider congratulates Eng. Muna Al Hashemi on her commendable achievements and sits down with her to gather glimpses of her journey with Batelco.
You are with Batelco for a long time. Out of the 36 years since the beginning of Batelco, you are with the company for 22 years. What are the major changes that you have seen in the telecommunications sector in the Kingdom?
I joined Batelco as a graduate trainee in 1994, right at the beginning of the mobile and internet journey.
We aim to follow that spirit in everything we do, and our customers are the core of our business.
Since then, we have seen a multitude of technological revolutions: In fixed telephony we witnessed a progression from slow dial-up, to ADSL, to Batelco Fiber with speeds up to 500 Mbps. In mobile communications we have seen an evolution from simple 2G mobile phones to modern mini smart-phone computers surfing at 4G speed. The upcoming 5G mobile networks will require significant investment but they will also bring about the next speed-revolution.
Going forward, constantly offering new and better services and technologies, with competitively low prices – and, thus, capital needed for investment – will be one of our biggest challenges. But we are, and will remain, one of the technology leaders in Bahrain.
After all these years, I still find the possibilities fascinating; this industry is without doubt the most exciting one to be part of.
You have been in different positions in Batelco. How do you think that helps you to ensure the welfare and better performance of your employees?
I began my career in the Engineering Department as a trainee. Over the years, I had the opportunity to experience various departments including Customer Services, Accounts, Product Marketing, Product Development and Customer Marketing. Through hard work and the support of my superiors, I managed to become CEO of Batelco in Bahrain.
I have experienced the challenges first-hand. It is therefore my aim to give the opportunity to progress through hard work and the support of my management to all of our staff at Batelco. It is my personal pride when I see young staff succeed in having successful careers at Batelco. This is one of the keys to remain as one of the preferred employers in Bahrain.
Do you believe the initiative to empower women is strong and successful in the Kingdom? What are your plans to support women including those who seek a career in telecommunications?
Bahrain has stood out for the empowerment of women with a long established reputable education system. The first school for girls was established in 1928! Also, HRH Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King and President of the Supreme Council for Women, has been very instrumental in developing the role of women in Bahrain.
I myself am a product of the Bahrain system: educated start-to-finish in Bahrain, I obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Bahrain. This is proof that in Bahrain we have a system that provides the necessary tools to attain the highest goals.
I am a member of the Board of Injaz, which offers great support and opportunities to all young Bahrainis. Unsurprisingly, I encourage all girls to follow their dreams. My example shows that in Bahrain we can all be successful in any career we choose. Batelco is an equal opportunities employer, and women and men have the same opportunities. We therefore equally encourage young girls and boys to excel at school and university and to join our Batelco family. We are also very proud of our continuous efforts and investments in our people which include in-house training and career development to help further the career aspirations of all.
What are Batelco Bahrain’s priorities in facing the ongoing competition in the local market?
We are the leading telecom company in Bahrain, and our aim is to continue leading the market by focusing on our customers’ needs. There is a saying that “good companies focus on what the competition is doing, great companies focus on what their customers want”. We aim to follow that spirit in everything we do, and our customers are the core of our business. If their experience is good, we grow. If we lose them, we fail. Our customers therefore determine what we focus on.
In order to prepare for upcoming challenges we are going through a number of transformative activities.
We plan investments in a better and more efficient network, the basis for all future offers. We already have the best coverage and speeds among mobile and fixed telecommunication lines in Bahrain. We will continue to invest in maintaining our lead. 5G will be the topic to watch.
On top of that, we are building ICT capabilities for our enterprise customers and partners to enable them in their respective businesses. Promising industry verticals are health, education, big data and other cloud based services. We are currently investing in strengthening our role as Bahrain’s leading digital solutions provider.
We are revamping and extending our core and ICT offers for our consumers, while focusing on ease of use, value for money, and innovations that you won’t be able to get from our competitors.
All of this, however, cannot be achieved without improving the way we work internally: faster and better processes enable us to react quicker. Our focus on developing our staff gives us the edge in attracting and retaining the brightest talent.
What are your future plans for Batelco?
We want to be the first choice as the telecom service provider for all people of Bahrain and a benchmark for the competition.
We want the best staff, and we will provide them an environment where they can thrive and grow.
Leading in network, enterprise, ICT, and next generation consumer services is our aim.
We are backing up our promises with a detailed investment and transformation plan for the next 5 years.
The most important: our personal commitment to our self-defined priorities will ensure we will succeed.
Ms. Muna Hashemi has concluded the latest interview on a very confident note that promises a shining future for the telecommunications sector in the Kingdom. Gulf Insider along with others in Bahrain is waiting for these brilliant ideas to transform our everyday communications.