ALCATEL-LUCENT SOUTH AFRICA, A SOLUTIONS BASED COMPANY Interview of Alcatel-Lucent Vice President (South Africa) Chad Baker, interviewed by Andrea Steyn for research purposes

Today I was lucky enough to have an hour with Chad Baker. We talked technology developments, sales strategies, African markets and community programs. I was honestly surprised by the way the company works, and I mean this in the best way I can.

I expected a giant formal office with a private lift (Vodacom is like this), however Chad is relaxed, approachable and on top of things. I can imagine it would be great working with him.

Global CEO Ben Verwaayen was equally approachable, responding to my email promptly at night regarding a speech he recently gave in Cape Town about the future of technology (which I blogged earlier).

I started my meeting by asking about all sorts of technology that the company are developing, especially with the launch of so many servers, software and communication integration products in the market this week.

Communication all started in 1839 with the invention of the first commercial telegraph. Bell Laboratories is part of Alcatel-Lucent today, and originally started by making telephones in 1925 (remember the telephone invention in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell?). Bell Labs has won more Nobel prizes than most countries. All of their inventions are fascinating. Do you know the company has just been able to transmit data at 100 million gigabits per second per km? (that’s 100 petabit per second per km – now I have a new word to impress my friends).

But enough about all that. Read my other blog’s for interesting tech from Alcatel-Lucent.


I learned from Chad Baker today that they work from a customer point of view. Identifying the customer’s needs first, and then working on a total solution using all of the resources available. Understand what the end user wants. Second comes innovation through the new technology solutions at hand; third comes working with your tech engineers to develop these systems.

Suddenly I remember reading a presentation last night from the French Alcatel division:

The Values:

–          Customers first

–          Innovation

–          Teamwork

–          Respect

–          Accountability

Almost like being at university again, and reading a textbook, Chad described the way they operate in exactly the same order as these company values. I’m not trying to earn him some brownie points, but it does show that the company have a strong code of ethics that spans across the 130 countries that they are in. If you want streamlined and consistent delivery of services, then without a doubt you are going to get that.

Apparently, as Chad went on to say, all of his employees work really long hours, putting all possible effort into their jobs. It was nice to hear him boast about the people he works with. They have phenomenal internal communication systems, which even allow employees to blog, and share thoughts with each other. Being able to work from diverse locations, it’s important to stay in touch with each other for pooling knowledge, and that’s even on a global scale. Employees have access to the intranet which hosts a wealth of information and resources such as case studies. Its global, so a giant web of information is available and communication between branches no problem.

Chad Baker shared with me some exciting developments that the company are doing in Africa yet to be deployed. I wasn’t privy to the details, but it is going to make information communication technology available to the $1 user. Great news for Africa and our rural communities! More news on this when deployment occurs.


About Andrea

Still trying to learn...
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