Interview 3: Diego Massidda, Former CEO, Vodafone Hungary

  • 1 Aug 2013 12:00 PM
Interview 3: Diego Massidda, Former CEO, Vodafone Hungary
1. Vodafone is one of the fastest networks in the world. In your opinion, what are the most competitive services of the company that makes Vodafone unique from competitors?

First of all we have a very wide coverage for mobile broadband, covering over 97% of the Hungarian population, which is unparalleled. We also have the most competitive unlimited voice and text offer on the Hungarian market, our Red plan, which is very successful. These days many people are leaving to spend holidays abroad, so I would also like to emphasise that we have a unique roaming service called Europe Daily Ticket, where domestic minute and messaging prices and allowances can be used also withing Europe, together with a 100 MB data allowance, for a 990 daily fee. We never stop working on new, innovative ideas to stay on top.

2. With the modernization of the network infrastructure and the joint venture with Tesco in 2011, what outcomes did Vodafone Hungary experience?
We are satisfied with the results so far. As it is a 50:50 joint venture providing Tesco Mobile branded services in Hungary through Tesco stores using Vodafone's technology and network, Tesco Mobile customers benefit from the expertise of both Tesco and Vodafone. It is one of the most successful Tesco mobile launches internationally, and hopefully it will continue to grow.

3. Please tell us a recent success story...
It would probably be the renovation and modernization of our entire network within a year. As we were completing this in spring 2012, and we had just acquired new frequencies in an auction, we managed to switch on our high speed 3G service overnight in a large part of the country which until then had only been served by slower data technologies. This was a fantastic achievement I believe.

4. What is your vision regarding the evolution of Vodafone and the telecommunications market over the next decade?
The telecommunications industry has experienced more changes in the last decade than in its entire history. Back in the old days, it was a phenomenal thing to be able to talk on the move, but now, Vodafone is also transforming businesses through innovation, for example through M2M applications. On the long run, we are moving more and more from being a mobile operator to a scale data company; our Red service package is a good example of this, as it allows our customers to be continuously connected to their friends and the internet for a fixed price, where what you are really paying for is the data connectivity, and voice and SMS are more of an application running on top of our fast data network.

5. Would you please clarify the rumours that the government wants to buy Vodafone?
We are not aware of any proposals by anyone; the company is not for sale, but if someone would offer a crazy price Vodafone would for sure consider it, as I think anyone would do. We just focus on continuing our hard work to make the company a better and better one.

6. What is your view about the market share growth of Vodafone?
Market share has not really moved in the past couple of years, we have a tough job as the market is very competitive. Our job and aim, of course, is to make Vodafone the best in order to attract more customers. If we want to gain market share the key is to become better faster, and we are confident that we can do that if we continue in the current direction.

7. What are the key Telco trends you see emerging in the near future?
Mobile payments is definitely one of them through using NFC, Near Field Communication, which is quite revolutionary, as it will be possible to have a virtual credit or debit card on the phone and will allow people to pay directly with their mobile phone. It will have an automatic security system, linked to the SIM card in the phone, and with multiple levels of security, so even if you lose your phone you do not run the risk of your card being stolen as well. This will make the payments more convenient, easy, and definitely less time consuming.

Within the same technology, we’ve integrated a system which will replace badges for entering a business building, and all of this works even when the phone is off, making it useful in professional office life. Also, each BMW that will be produced from now on will have a Vodafone SIM card in it, allowing people to access Internet, different entertainments, and navigate easier. We have negotiated with Coca Cola also, they will have a SIM card in their fridges, which enables remote communication about stock levels, malfunctioning of the fridge, and even detect if a non-Coke bottle has been put in the fridge.

All of this is already a reality, on the NFC mobile payments we are already running a pilot with hundreds of customers, and we will roll out the service commercially already next year.

8. What is your most treasured possession?
A set of cufflinks I got from my wife with my childrens’ names and fingerprints on it.

9. What was the luckiest moment in your life so far?
I consider myself very lucky in general, but if I must choose, it would be the opportunity I was given 10 years ago to lead a company in South Africa, which was my first CEO job. I am very thankful to the people who believed in me, and I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

10. Aside from a property what is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
It is probably the Mini car that my wife drives.

11. What behaviour do you most dislike in others?

12. How do you usually relax?
Playing golf.

13. What keeps you awake at night?
Often it is one of my children, as I have three between the age of 2 and 7, it often happens that one of them wakes up during the night…

14. What single thing would improve your quality of life?
If there was a direct flight from Budapest to Sardinia, I would be really happy, because I could go there more often. That’s where I was born and grew up, and where my parents and relatives live.

15. What question would you ask yourself if you interviewed yourself?
Why do you think you have to answer all of the questions journalists ask? And the answer is because I am polite… :-)

Related Interviews:

Diego Massidda, Former CEO, Vodafone Hungary

Interview 2: Diego Massidda, Former CEO, Vodafone Hungary

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