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Women are proving themselves in the workplace and developing their skills in all sectors which has allowed them to assume leadership positions, notably in the telecommunications and ICT industry. Denise Helou, Senior Business Development Manager at Verizon Partner Solutions, shares, in an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, the achievements made by the company thus far during its digital transformation journey, and tackles the importance of Arab women’s role in this field.

Being a leading woman in the field of technology, and given your managerial position at Verizon, how do you see the role of women in this sector?

Verizon strongly believes in diversity, equity and inclusion. Consequently, Verizon supports women through programs such as mentorship, development and employee resource groups, as well as supporting women-owned businesses and internships. Verizon created the Women’s CoLab in October 2021, bringing together an impressive group of companies all focused on helping women succeed in the digital economy. It’s an acknowledged fact in businesses around the world today that improving workforce diversity, and particularly gender diversity, is a business industry imperative.

I work for a company that has diversity at the heart of its belief system. Our credo states that we embrace diversity not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s smart business. Our business is all about helping people, businesses and things communicate better in the digital world. We also focus on fostering diversity and inclusion, because when you’re in the business of connecting people and cultures across the planet, it is your blueprint for success. It’s a blueprint that builds relationships on which your future business depends. This is why I work for Verizon.

With over 24 months of the pandemic behind us, how did the need for digital acceleration impact the wholesale industry?

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation for enterprises of all sizes. Specifically, it changed not only the fact that most workforces were immediately dispersed from offices, but the manner in which many businesses interacted with their consumers. Customer experiences were disrupted in a major way out of necessity due to distributed workforces and social distancing requirements.

The wholesale industry provided the products and solutions that helped enable mass digitization of business processes and customer experiences. Connectivity from the telecom industry was crucial in ensuring businesses continuity with a remote workforce. Telecom providers needed to pivot from modernizing customers' office communications to enabling remote workforces in a very short period of time, all while much of their workforce also transitioned to work from home. Our online portals and APIs rapidly enabled new service orders for this shift and voice network capacity was added for the short term spike in voice traffic.

Our prior digital transformation investments have served us well throughout the pandemic. What the future holds for the wholesale industry is an uncharted course without a historical precedent. 

Where is the industry heading in terms of technology, solutions, ecosystem, and business model and what are some of Verizon’s priorities in these areas?

Products and services built on top of the network and enabled by our connectivity are significant growth areas. That includes above the network solutions such as security and BlueJeans (audio/video conferencing), MEC, massive IoT, private on site 5G/LTE networks, Network as a Service (NaaS) to include Ethernet, Wave and Internet network services growth, and fixed wireless access products like 5G and LTE Business Internet from Verizon. Moving 'up the stack' and offering or enabling useful applications holds promise for future growth. Verizon is investing in expanding our data center presence with higher bandwidth capabilities.

With the aim of achieving digital transformation and 5G adoption, what is the vision of Verizon to reach the next stage for a digital future?

Verizon continues to invest in the product portfolio and digital tools to deliver the best experience for customers. Some of the most valuable lessons we learned during the pandemic have been around our ongoing digital transformation and digital experience efforts. While improving digital experience is always a work in progress, our Verizon Partner Solutions Exchange portal has been a home run for ease of doing business during the crisis and beyond.

As we move forward in this transformation, we are integrating digital technology into our business operations and enriching the exchange platform with digital capabilities that deliver value to our customers and create the networks that move the world forward. We highlight its capabilities in customer forums, to help ensure customers have awareness of the platform roadmaps and releases.

We are also driving adoption of this customer self-service platform through our interactions with our customers. Connecting people, places, things across the globe with initiatives such as the MEF interoperability standards will enable us to provide access to technology to all and education to develop the future workforces and ultimately transform the customer experience.

With women occupying several leadership positions in the business and communications sector, what would you like to tell all the pioneering women, especially in the Arab world?

I personally believe in the perseverance, capacity and performance of women in leadership positions, particularly women of the Arab world. The presence of female leaders in senior managerial positions would contribute positively to the improvement of career prospects of all women.

Besides equity and diversity that those senior female leaders enrolled in leadership positions enable, they usually tend to develop a positive and energized workplace and contribute positively to the company’s policies and to the customers’ perception.

Along that line, I strongly encourage all Arab women - whether in leadership positions or not - to get involved, work hard and contribute positively not only to their company’s success and development, but to work on a larger scale so as to advocate wide-scale societal & cultural changes to their communities, economies and countries.

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