‘The future of connectivity is fibre optic infrastructure’

16 Dec 2021

Gavin Murphy. Image: Corporate Photographers Dublin

Virgin Media Business’ Gavin Murphy talks about his career journey, from when mobile phones were just taking off to today’s telecoms tech.

As the head of operations for Virgin Media Business in Ireland, Gavin Murphy is responsible for a wide remit covering inside sales, fulfilment and delivery teams, in-life product management and customer support teams.

Earlier this year, the subsidiary of Virgin Media launched a new SD-WAN service in a bid to help businesses around Ireland improve their networking and security.

Murphy has been working for Virgin Media for more than eight years in various roles, with previous posts at Liberty Global and Vodafone.

‘The introduction of hybrid working models, along with the increased capabilities of telecoms and connectivity, is driving the future of work’

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

As I come from a project management background, I like structure in my working life. However, working in a dynamic operations role means you also need agility.

My number-one priority at all times is ensuring our customers have a great experience at every touchpoint with Virgin Media Business. I believe that if you get this right, everything else falls into place. To do this, you need a strong, motivated and engaged team, such as the one we have cultivated at Virgin Media, who are truly behind this customer-first ethos.

It’s also important to me that I catch up with my managers every day to understand the plan for the day, discuss any issues, agree priorities, and offer direction.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

The biggest challenge that I see facing our sector right now is adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve all seen how essential technology has been in navigating the pandemic, and business owners are aware of that as well. Our own research has found that 87pc of businesses have invested in digital technologies over the past year.

And while the rate and speed of digital transformation within Irish businesses has been breathtaking, which is testament to their resilience, there are lots of businesses out there that need support in this journey.

We know the Irish economy is dominated by SMEs. Considering their relevance, they need to be placed at the core of any digital transformation strategy. Businesses that embrace digitalisation also tend to experience better access to new markets, increased innovation and improved competitiveness.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

In recent years, we have seen a massive digital revolution with most businesses starting or advancing their technological transformation. These changes are powered by connectivity and software-led applications. The backbone of Virgin Media Business is connectivity and we also provide the products and services to unleash the potential of that connectivity such as our secure home-working solution, SD-WAN, managed Wi-Fi, cloud connectivity and our cloud voice solution.

The introduction of hybrid working models, along with the increased capabilities of telecommunications and ‘always on’ connectivity, is driving the future of work. More than ever, Irish businesses are connecting to the cloud and we only see this trend continuing at pace.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how vital it was to stay connected. Providing connectivity and bandwidth is no longer enough. Business customers expect first-class customer service and responsive technical support. We have invested heavily in this area to provide best-in-class B2B support to allow our customers to focus on growing their business.

With the ever-increasing appetite and need for greater bandwidth capability, the future of connectivity is fibre optic infrastructure. Virgin Media already has a fibre-rich network, and we recently announced an investment to move to a full fibre network within the next three years. This will future-proof our network.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I started in telecoms at a very exciting time in the early years of mobile phone adoption in Ireland. I held various roles in Eircell before starting my project management journey in Vodafone. As someone who is well organised and enjoys collaboration, I took to project management immediately.

I started in Virgin Media Business as a client-facing project manager working on the delivery of customer connectivity solutions before moving into a management role focused on service delivery and then taking on the wider remit of business operations in recent years.

I have a real passion for operations and love being in the engine of the business providing our customers with an amazing experience. We are always looking for ways to improve, to move forward, to challenge ourselves and to be the best in the market.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Early in my career, it was probably trying to do everything myself and not being good at delegating or asking for help. Effective delegation is so important to empower your team, build trust and develop your people. It also frees you to focus on the strategic direction of the business and its growth.

Making mistakes is an important part of learning in business and in your career. You need to embrace your mistakes in order to grow and evolve. You also need to accept that some things cannot be controlled.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I think empowering your team is essential and trusting them to make decisions that are in the best interest of our business and customers. I get huge satisfaction from developing people and watching them grow in confidence. I see it as an investment in their future and also in the company’s future success. In turn, this creates loyalty within the team and enthusiasm in what we are trying to achieve as a business unit.

Also, given the challenges we have all experienced over the last 18 months, focus on your team’s engagement and wellbeing is essential.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Many companies within our sector demonstrate their support for diversity via a company policy or have dedicated departments to manage it across the business.

While this tends to sit within the HR function, increasingly more originations have a dedicated diversity champion, whose role is to ensure that the importance of diversity is aligned with and reflected in the strategic operational decisions. Diversity champions are highly visible and inspirational leaders who act as a catalyst for action across the business and across sectors.

Diversity is always in the interests of business, employees and civil society. Practical approaches are often the most effective way to encourage diversity and change, and diversity should be placed at the heart of an organisation to release its full potential.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I have been very lucky to have had several along the way but the most pivotal was the mentor who started me on my journey into project management when I worked with Vodafone. He took a chance on me and believed in me more than I did in myself at the time.

To this day, I still seek out mentors to learn from and continue my development. I think it is essential to receive regular feedback as a means of improving performance and continuing your growth.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Having two young kids under four, getting to read a book is a bit of a luxury these days. When I do, it’s mostly fiction and autobiographies.

From a business perspective, I found Richard Branson’s autobiography inspiring. The Best Service is No Service by Bill Price and David Jaffe is a great book on a new approach to customer service, but the book I go back to most is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I find it a great self-development book for both your personal and business life.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

For me, it has to be Microsoft Teams for video calls and IM for keeping up to date with everything my team and colleagues are currently working on.

My smartphone is also obviously critical for staying connected with customers and partners and, on a more personal note, Sam Harris’s Waking Up app really helps me disconnect every day, which is important to ensure a good work-life balance.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.