Neasa Parker of Three Ireland discusses the impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, the roll-out of 5G services, and her love of a good podcast.
Neasa Parker has extensive experience working in telecoms and IT, having held a variety of roles across consumer and business markets at many of Ireland’s communications companies.
She has worked with Three Ireland for more than five years, and earlier this year was appointed to the role of consumer director.
‘With the impact of Covid-19, more and more people are online and now they’re online all day’
– NEASA PARKER
Describe your role and what you do.
I am consumer director for Three Ireland. In practical terms, that means being responsible for our consumer strategy and execution, designing and launching the products and services we sell to our customers, and evolving our offering to meet demand and achieve our goals.
I am also accountable for the performance of our sub-brand 48, which is a digital youth-orientated mobile brand that was relaunched this year and has been incredibly successful. The role is very diverse and requires many hats.
How do you prioritise and organise your working life?
I am pretty organised and I plan my working life around what my team and I need to do to achieve our goals over the year, month, week or day.
However, this industry is fast paced so I often must reprioritise to react to a change in the market, a trend in performance or customer needs, which means replanning and at very short notice. Three has a customer base of over 2.4m people and there is an engine in the background that needs to continue to tick over every day to ensure we effectively serve our customer’s needs.
Collaboration is key and I prioritise spending time with the team to review progress, adjust plans and give guidance. It’s incredibly important whilst working remotely that we stay well connected and the team feels supported.
What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?
Demand for our services has never been greater. With the impact of Covid-19, more and more people are online and now they’re online all day. Three is an essential service provider and a critical part of Ireland’s communications infrastructure.
We are working incredibly hard to ensure our customers continue to remain connected and during the initial period of restrictions we made several commitments to support the Government’s efforts to keep the country connected.
What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?
In September we launched our 5G network. Earlier this month, we also launched 5G broadband, which offers a competitive cost and speed option for customers and businesses when selecting a broadband provider. Our focus is on building and delivering products and services that will maximise that investment and enhance our customers connectivity experience.
All of this development supports Three’s ongoing commitment to enhance connectivity nationwide, as part of our annual network investment of over €100m. Connectivity is vital to our everyday lives, so we really wanted to be the first in the country to offer 5G to everyone.
What set you on the road to where you are now?
My first job in Ireland was in one of the first data centres in the country, doing B2B marketing. It was an amazing first role, a start-up that grew rapidly from less than 10 employees to over 100.
They had some really prominent clients but unfortunately it didn’t survive the dot-com bubble burst in the late ‘90s. That set me on the road to telecoms and I have worked for the main telecoms providers in Ireland over the years.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
I haven’t made many mistakes that I can recall, but the one learning I have is to always trust your gut. If something does not feel right, then it generally isn’t right.
How do you get the best out of your team?
I am lucky enough to have a really great team of people who have diverse skills, are really dedicated and are working exceptionally hard in the current environment.
I generally try to empower individual teams to manage their own areas so there is a strong sense of accountability, but I will always be very supportive and approachable if they need me. Often, I have to be directive, but I find that the team responds well to that providing context is set.
It’s a given that clear and regular communication is really important, particularly as we operate in this virtual world, but equally important is flexibility. I know my team are balancing home life with working life and, as such, I am flexible in how people work as I know that delivery is the main goal.
Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?
I think every company is working to improve diversity within their organisation, and Three is no different. Last year we achieved the Investors in Diversity Ireland (IID) Silver award, which measures how embedded diversity and inclusion is into the culture of an organisation. It gathers the sense of fairness from the employee’s perspective. By achieving Silver, Three Ireland has demonstrated that we welcome and value diversity and are inclusive of all, irrespective of differences.
We also have a diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) committee. They have outlined Three’s DIB vision, objectives and road map, incorporating recommendations based on survey results and focus groups, and are doing some really fantastic work.
Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?
Yes, I have had a few significant people who I have learnt from, not formal mentors. I worked with someone many years ago when I first entered this business and she was a brilliant thinker. She had a natural ability to get to the root of an issue, come up a with a strategy to address and communicate the solution succinctly and with conviction without getting lost in the detail. I really admired that skill and since then I have always tried to mirror that.
What books have you read that you would recommend?
I love podcasts and I seem to spend any leisure time listening to them rather than reading a book. I listen to a variety like The Daily by The New York Times and all the true crime series. Next on my reading list is American Dirt – it’s beside my bed, but I haven’t started it yet because I can’t stop finding podcasts I like!
What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
I am a list maker and I am traditional in that I prefer pen and paper. I am lucky that in my role I have access to all the latest tools and devices but, ultimately, I always go back to working my way through the written list!
During lockdown, I’ve also started using DropChef. They provide a service that delivers all the ingredients and instructions to make healthy dinners. This has really reduced mealtime stress for me.
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