Telecom Review North America had an exclusive interview with Rola Araji, Ing., Director of Sales and Business Development, Large Enterprise, TELUS Business, who is also the telco’s proud Diversity and Inclusion ambassador. She spoke about how large organizations are transforming nowadays, TELUS’ core business strategy in 2023 and what makes her proud to be a woman in ICT, among other insights.

What are the key challenges and opportunities of handling the sales and business area, particularly with large enterprises compared to other business sizes?

The pandemic and unprecedented challenges of the past three years have forced large enterprises to rethink how they operate. We’re seeing that most large organizations are transforming more than ever before and embracing technology as the key enabler of their business growth strategies while also pivoting to business models that use technology to create long-term resilience and growth.  Our clients are facing multiple operational challenges including supply chain disruptions and major labour shortages; they have reported struggling to hire qualified employees in many areas of their business, IT in particular.

We are seeing their mindset shifting when it comes to the technology landscape. They are moving from static and standalone solutions to integrated and secure platforms leveraging the cloud. This digital transformation for our customers is a journey and an imperative that we are very proud to help to support at TELUS Business. As the boundaries of business also continue to expand beyond the organization with the help of accelerated digitization, increased connectivity and migration to cloud, three key areas are critical to success for large organizations to consider as part of their growth and success strategies:

  • Cybersecurity: an imperative as large organizations need to operate and grow under the more frequent and sophisticated security threats
  • Sustainability: essential to meet investor pressure, consumer demand, regulatory requirements, talent acquisition
  • Customer experience: Changing consumer preferences, new business models, and technology disruptions are forcing businesses to rethink their customer experience strategy and use data and advanced analytics to design great customer experiences

Leading sales for the Large Enterprise Segment, it’s crucial to understand our clients’ challenges and ensure we are their trusted advisors and partners on every step of their technological journey.  We can achieve business success through our customers' success.

How does TELUS intend to expand its enterprise clientele while improving its product and service delivery?

Everything we do is underpinned by our Customer First culture, focused on delivering customer service excellence as part of our ongoing pursuit of operational efficiency and effectiveness. Being close to our clients and understanding their challenges and business goals are key and allow us to build innovative solutions that meet their objectives. Our focus is to offer integrated solutions that anticipate and meet the evolving needs of our customers. We have a diverse mix of customers across Canada, and our goal is always the same, continue providing them with the integrated solutions that will help them thrive, be more productive, and be successful in a digital world. We work closely with our large enterprise clients on new use cases enabled by 5G that fuels the digital economy. As an example, TELUS was selected as the exclusive 5G and loT connectivity provider for Project Arrow, Canada's first zero emissions vehicle, an all-Canadian effort led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association of Canada.

TELUS Business also has a constant focus on making things as simple as possible for our customers, which includes enhancing our customer experience through digital and automated processes. Our long-standing commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. As an extension of TELUS, TELUS Business has been focusing on these same imperatives to support Canadian businesses, leading us to be one of the top 10 best business-to-business (B2B) brands in Canada. What’s also exciting is that Canadians recently voted TELUS as the number one mobile carrier for business.

In today's digital-centric environment, how will a telco like TELUS remain profitable, competitive and sustainable among enterprise customers?

TELUS’ success has come from the solid delivery of our long-standing strategy focused on the growth markets of data and wireless, alongside our commitment to our clients as trusted partners. Focusing our efforts are strategic imperatives that address the dynamic competitive environment in which we operate. Our key directives are:

  • Continue investments in our wireline and wireless networks: Expand our world-leading 5G experience with faster speeds, higher capacity and improved responsiveness and leverage the superiority and ubiquity of our fiber network as an important differentiator for TELUS among our Canadian and global peer group to deliver positive outcomes.
  • Strengthen our business offerings with tailored and innovative solutions: Leverage our 5G network including Internet of Things (IoT) offerings in key verticals and industries our enterprise clients are part of, such as energy, retail, mining, manufacturing, transportation, etc.
  • Focus relentlessly on enterprise segment requirements: Aim to build scale and differentiation by integrating our services into compelling solutions for our customers.
  • Invest in internal capabilities, most particularly our people: Support and encourage their personal growth and development as our team expertise is the greatest asset in delivering best-in class customer experience.
  • Continue advancing our leadership position in sustainability: TELUS has issued our second and third sustainability-linked bonds in 2022, linking our financing to the achievement of ambitious environmental targets and placing TELUS at the forefront of sustainable financing.

What is your outlook in the Canadian telecom landscape and what is TELUS' core business strategy to make an impact in 2023 and beyond?

We can see major market trends are shaping the Canadian communications landscape, where service providers are heavily investing in 5G wireless networks, deploying networks in cities and rural areas across Canada and bridging the digital gap between communities.

Every day, TELUS leverages the power of technology to enable vital connectivity for millions of people. Given this responsibility, it is critical that TELUS continually invests in our world-leading networks. Since 2000, we have invested $239 billion in network infrastructure, operations and spectrum, and we plan to invest an additional $70 billion through 2026.

Our strong position is supported by record customer growth in 2022 on our leading mobile and fixed broadband networks, diversified and powerful asset mix, and our company-wide focus on delivering exceptional customer service. Our growth strategy is backed by major investments in our core networks and innovative solutions leveraging 5G capabilities. TELUS will continue to make strategic investments, including our participation in the 3800MHz spectrum auction later this year, to continue advancing our winning growth strategy.

5G is enabling new use cases fueling the digital economy: connected buildings, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, smart mining, manufacturing automation and so many more and Telus Business is extremely well positioned to partner with our clients in this exciting journey.

To further support our commitment to Canadian business owners, we recommitted $1 million to #StandWithOwners in 2022, shining a spotlight on small business owners. Similarly, we introduced ShopWithOwners.ca, a free online platform where entrepreneurs can reach customers seeking to shop locally.

There is a strong trajectory of growth ahead, and as we expand synergistically across our businesses, TELUS is in a great position to continue leading into the future.

With your extensive years of experience, how did your personal and professional views transform within the ICT field? What makes you proud to be a woman in ICT?

Even if we see more women in ICT related fields, they are still underrepresented and will be for some time, especially in leadership positions.  We are more than 2,000 women at TELUS Business only, yet we still have work to do to create more opportunities for women in business and technology careers. Many of the challenges for women, even today, involve real issues such as social and financial barriers. But one of the biggest challenges is our own perception that these fields are reserved for men and this is not the case.

I still remember my first day at Ecole Polytechnique of Montreal where there were few women in the electrical engineering program. I always knew I had to be part of the exciting world of technology and innovation, so I followed my passion and today I strive to encourage young girls and women to do the same.

Opportunities for women are huge in the ICT world and being a woman has tremendous advantages. For example, women have an important role to play in the advancement of technology, especially in our era of digital transformation where technology is reshaping business with new trends like Cloud Computing and Internet of Things. I play an active role with our leadership team to identify biases, remove barriers for our team members, explore creative ways to hire and retain our female talent. I encourage and mentor young women who want to pursue and evolve their career in such a rewarding and exciting world of innovative technologies.

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