Keeping People Connected – Ramzeena Morseth Lye, Chief Marketing Officer of Hutchison Telecommunications SL

With over 30 plus years of experience in Sales and Marketing, Ramzeena Morseth Lye is an inspiration to young corporate females. She carries out her responsibilities at home as a wife and mother of two, as well as at Hutchison Telecommunications Sri Lanka as the Chief Marketing Officer.

“I have worked across many industries, with my stints at Hayleys Consumer, Pizza Hut and Hutch being the highlights. Each of them appealed to different parts of my personality and each has shaped and defined me in distinct ways.

“My eight years at Hutch has been the most challenging, exhilarating, yet rewarding time. Throughout the eight years, Hutch has had its ups and downs, and I’m proud to be a part of this wonderful organisation which is an equal opportunity employer with many women in decision making positions.

“I was fortunate enough to have superiors who mentored me, pushed me to unlock my potential, allowed me to make decisions at an early stage in my career, and learn from mistakes, taking cues from these experiences I follow a similar style of mentoring/collaborative leadership with each team I’ve worked with.”

In a message to young corporate females, Ramzeena stated that getting educated and being financially independent is mandatory. “Also, don’t underestimate the value of networking and meeting people. Read and keep up-to-date on both local and global trends. Learn how to read  finance numbers so that you can understand the business KPIs and finally contribute to the P&L.

She stressed that, “There’s no shortcut to success, but a lot of hard work, but remember to keep a balance between home and work. Success in one needn’t come at the expense of the other.”

As claimed by Ramzeena, establishing and running a telecom operation  is an extremely high cost business as it involves high initial investments, operational costs and high taxes, licence fees etc. Moreover, she said that with the rapidly evolving technology, the capital expenditure requirements are frequent and intense as well.

“The Sri Lankan Telco industry is very vibrant, fast-paced and hyper competitive. Industry players, all backed by major international investors, have not shied away from investing in new technology and expanding network coverage across the nation to the majority of the population despite a tough operating environment.

“Insufficient broadband spectrum remains one of the major obstacles in low cost capacity building for future data demand. The government must accelerate the release of more spectrum used by other industries, such as radio and TV broadcasting, occupying strong spectrum bands for the Telecom industry in order to facilitate national digitisation.”

Ramzeena went on to say that data tariffs in Sri Lanka are among the lowest in the world and are, in fact, the highest margin revenue line for telcos, mainly because there are no interconnection or content costs.

Explaining how telcos are responding to the pressure from low-margin data usage over voice and instant messaging, she added, “The concern is that, as tariffs continue to decline, the margin we can earn from each subscriber has continued to decline over the years. Telco must be one of the few industries in the world where price deflation is common with the price of a data GB and the price of a voice minute continues to fall every year, but for operators, costs continue to rise.

“The silver lining that keeps us going is the massive future growth that will come from mobile broadband across consumer, corporate and government sectors. Demand for data is already showing signs of exponential growth, which means that it may still be difficult for all four operators to meet this requirement and further investment in capacity would be required.”

Speaking of how Sri Lankan telcos are progressing, Ramzeena affirmed that the Voice market has reached saturation point and future growth opportunities lie in increasing demand for wireless broadband data.

“At present, with work from home and study from home requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is seeing a huge increase in data usage. This may seem like a good thing from the outset, but it also means quickly congesting networks and unhappy customers. Growth in data usage also doesn’t necessarily convert to equivalent growth in revenue. This means that operators need to invest in capex to increase capacity, but returns will be slower. Given the current difficult economic circumstances, investment decisions are hard thought and hard fought.

“Two years ago, we had five operators fighting for the 22Mn wallets. Competition used to be hyper with yields crashing on a daily basis. However, following the acquisition by Hutch of Etisalat Sri Lanka in 2019, the number of operators has been reduced to four and while the industry remains highly competitive, some sanity has also begun to prevail, thanks to the active role of regulator TRC.”

Furthermore, explaining how global economic conditions and developments in the western world are impacting the local Telecom industry, she stated, “Advancements in all things smart and smart infrastructure are gaining momentum and, in the future, 5G technology will be deemed necessary to facilitate some of these applications. However, it remains to be seen whether the incremental benefits of 5G technology, compared to 4G, can support such a large investment that will also deliver an ROI to investors that enables continued investment.”

In conclusion, the CMO affirmed that Sri Lanka was the first to launch 2G, 3G and 4G in the region and has always been in the forefront of technology ahead of many of its South Asian peers.

“Several Far East markets, such as South Korea and China, have already launched 5G, commercially. Several Sri Lankan operators, including Hutch, have already carried out 5G trials. The prospect of high-bandwidth, high-speed broadband internet feels like what science fiction movies were made of, and this is what inspires me in terms of the future possibilities that this technology can bring to us.”

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