“Clear communication is vital.” CEO Q&A: David Russell, Host Ireland

Business, CEO Q&A | Wed 20 Feb | Author – Business & Finance

In our next CEO Q&A, David Russell, CEO of Host Ireland, speaks to us about quality of service, the employment market, and governmental challenges.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

Customer Service Levels and quality of service are priority number one. As a critical infrastructure business we have to ensure our customers get the best level of service.   We’re renowned in the industry for having the best in class service, the most robust connections, fastest install times, and best pricing. It is important that we maintain this.

Day to day, the team and partners have to be a priority. The employment market is incredibly competitive so it is important to look after the talent you have.

We want to maintain our position as the market leader in wireless connectivity across Dublin.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Spinning many different plates at one time can always be a challenge. Each day presents something different, whether that be working with our partners, HR, sales, etc.

The market has become incredibly competitive. There are many options for connectivity out there. We know that Host Ireland Business Broadband offers the best product set in the industry, so being a small business getting this message across to every perspective customer can be an issue.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

By creating the right culture. It is important to create an environment where people feel happy, valued and positively challenged. Arguably this is easier for a SME as the team can get involved in every aspect of the business.

Clear communication is vital to creating this culture. If your team understands the vision and goals of the business coupled with their own set of objectives individuals can work as a cohesive team

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

A competitive landscape and a lethargic government.

All industries in the top of a boom cycle face competition, however, any good business should rise to this and sharpen their offering.

Government seems to have hit a bottleneck in the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, not to mention ignoring the most exciting connectivity option in the broadband sector, fixed wireless. This lethargy is holding businesses across the country back, not least the broadband sector, who could use the National Broadband Plan as spring board to increase investment in networks across the island and ensure Ireland has the best connectivity options anywhere in the world.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

Connectivity requirements are on the increase across the board. It doesn’t matter if you are the local butchers or a major blue-chip, advances in technology, the cloud, and AI is placing more strain on your connectivity.

Thankfully, we have a network capable of rolling out up to 2 Gbps connections in a matter of days. We know that robust connectivity is important and have designed a product set that works for all companies.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

We are finding there is a shortage of skilled people across the board. Like any city at the top of economic cycle, finding the right talent is difficult. Many are being sucked up by the FANGs who call Ireland their European home.

Common sense and self-drive can also be hard commodities to find, however, this can also be linked to the shortage of quality candidates in the market.

Q.  How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

As a boring utility, our strategy focused on continuing to offer best in-class service and pricing.   We were very aware that the business community were under various pressures and we didn’t want connectivity to be of them so we put our best foot forward on price and product.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

The uncertainty is affecting everyone. No one knows how to plan.

We are affected on stock delivery as everything we need is produced outside of Ireland and if not made in the UK, England is a land bridge for deliveries. We have overcome this by sitting on more stock than normal.

On a positive note, more high level SMES to Bluechips are moving into the city. As a market leader for connectivity we are go to for these businesses.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

On a day to day basis success is knowing our customers don’t even have to think about their connectivity as it just works. Success and a drive to succeed is fueled by seeing more and more happy customers added to the network, existing customers upgrading, and new customers coming to us from referrals. Knowing our connectivity solutions are helping businesses across the city grow, more people being employed, and companies succeed across multiple industries motivates you to want to connect more and more businesses.

Seeing what we do on a day to day basis, connecting customers across the city, enables the team here at Host Ireland Business Broadband reach their career and personal goals drives us to succeed.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

See a problem as an opportunity to fix something so it never happens again. This sounds incredibly cliched but it is true. In business, like life problems, difficulties and challenges will arise on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But, if you enable a plan to fix or mitigate these then next time it wouldn’t be as a big an issue.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Personally, becoming Chief Executive and leveraging the business for increased success on the work my predecessor did.

As a business, seeing our customer profile grow and develop. When Host Ireland Business Broadband started it was hoped that we could connect some of the high level SMEs that we now connect on a daily basis. This has grown to some of the largest companies in the world, validating the work and belief we have in our network.   This doesn’t dilute the value we put in our SME customers. These customers are vital not only to us but the Irish economy and by leveraging off the learning we develop from working with the large corporations we can better our offering to them also.

Q. What’s next for your company?

Keep doing what we are doing. We do one thing very well and want to continue to do that. We want to keep bettering our product and offering to allow companies to grow.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2019?

If the National Broadband Plan is managed right it could provide amazing opportunities. Failing that the growth of the Dublin business market will provide increased opportunities for us.

As businesses of all sizes move further towards the cloud they will need more robust connectivity. Needless to say, this also provides terrific opportunity for us.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Simple – we still want to known as the best provider of broadband connectivity in Dublin.

The employment market is incredibly competitive so it is important to look after the talent you have.