All you can eat: Dealing with the massive appetite for data

22 Aug 2017

Padraig Sheerin, head of SME at Three Ireland. Image: Three

For our Leaders’ Insights series, we spoke to Padraig Sheerin of Three Ireland about digital life in the fast lane.

Padraig Sheerin is the head of SME at Three Ireland.

Sheerin started his career as a retail manager before joining Eir in 1999. He held a number of senior roles at the company, including head of SME, before assuming similar positions at Telefónica and Three.

Future Human

Sheerin has a bachelor’s degree in management from the Irish Management Institute, as well as additional training in coaching and mentoring, meaning he is well equipped to navigate his team through the changing trends in the buzzing telecoms industry.

‘Customers have an ever-growing requirement for data as they go about their daily activities’

Describe your role and what you do.

As head of SME for Three Ireland, I am responsible for all sales and retention activity across our small and medium enterprise (SME) base. I am lucky enough to lead a highly motivated team, who help our customers buy and use mobile and other connectivity solutions to maximise their business opportunities.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

Rightly or wrongly, a good portion of the working week is filled with scheduled recurring meetings; for example, team meetings, one-to-ones and ongoing project meetings. While this provides structure and predictability, I think it is important to ensure every engagement is contributing to the achievement of our strategic priorities. I’m sure we could all let meetings take over our working lives, so I find it important to have a clear set of goals and objectives to refer to on a daily basis and ask at the end of every day, ‘What did I do today to help us meet our goals?’

I consciously set time aside to look outside of Three and stay in touch with new and emerging trends in sales, retention, digital, customer experience – anything that will help us develop our next set of priorities.

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

One challenge facing the business is the shifting emphasis from traditional mobile voice and SMS, to data. Customers now use smartphones and tablets to carry out activities while on the move, which traditionally would have been done on a PC or laptop. We are overcoming this challenge by offering all-you-can-eat data as part of our offering to customers. Our €300m investment in our network will deliver a state-of-the-art 4G network and ensure that our customers can run their business when and where they need to.

In a fast-paced digital industry, being agile, innovative and providing an excellent customer experience can be an ongoing challenge. As more and more customers embrace digital to help them grow their businesses, we need to ensure that we are equipped to provide the solutions to their evolving needs. We are tackling this challenge by investing in a major IT transformation project that will help us deliver a world-class customer experience and quickly bring new solutions to our customers.

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

Customers have an ever-growing requirement for data as they go about their daily activities. In fact, our customers are using 45pc more data now than they were this time last year. Three is capitalising on this opportunity by being the only provider to offer all-you-can-eat data to our SME customers.

The whole IoT space is another major opportunity for us, as more of our customers begin to leverage technology to connect the devices required to help them run their businesses more efficiently and effectively. We help customers monitor and manage their transport fleets, building security and stock inventory, and many other innovative uses of technology.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

The desire for change.

My career in the technology industry started back in 1999 when I joined Eircom [now Eir] as a telephone account manager. I would love to say this was part of a grand plan to get a piece of the infamous dot-com boom that was happening at the time but instead, it was born out of a desire to get out of grocery retail management. I was looking, Eircom was hiring and the rest, as they say, is history.

18 years on, it is fair to say there is no other industry that has seen such rapid change – changes that have completely transformed people’s personal and working lives. It is scary to think that it is still only 10 years since the iPhone was first launched in Ireland.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I think it is really important that you empower your team and trust them to get on with the job. People possess a certain level of skill and ability when hired into their role and, along with the correct level of support and development, they should be trusted to go and perform. The quid pro quo of empowerment and trust is that people take responsibility and are accountable for their performance.

Who is your business hero and why?

Every entrepreneur in Ireland. I have huge admiration for any person who has the vision, bravery and determination to take their idea and turn it into a successful enterprise. We need to remember that the SME community of approximately 240,000 businesses employs more than 1m people in Ireland and contributes almost one-third of the total value of the economy. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is hearing our customers’ stories, learning how they uncover and maximise opportunities, while continuously overcoming business challenges.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I am not currently a big reader of books and, with three small children at home, my recommendations are more likely to come from the junior section!

However, I recently read and enjoyed The Pressure Principle by Dave Alred. He uses some really simple concepts to demonstrate how pressure is something that should excite us rather than worry us.

I also consume lots of news and information via social media and apps.

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

My smartphone (and charger), of course!

Also, because I manage a large team with different priorities and metrics, excellent reporting, analytics and insights are essential to support good decision-making.

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