Leadership in telecom: How Ericsson’s Arun Bansal inspires 20,000 employees

Ericsson’s Arun Bansal. Image: Ericsson

This is the first in an occasional series from Fierce looking at leadership and management strategies in the telecom market.

After getting engineering and marketing degrees in India, Arun Bansal joined Ericsson in 1995 and held management positions including Country Manager for Indonesia and Bangladesh. In 2010, he was promoted to head of region south east Asia and Oceania, and then four years later he became the company’s senior vice president and head of business unit radio.

Today, Bansal is SVP and head of business unit network products for Ericsson, which is one of the world’s top network equipment vendors but has continued to struggle through a downturn in carrier spending. Bansal oversees all the sales of the company’s equipment and products, and is a member of the company’s top management team.

On setting expectations: "So I have 20,000 people globally, because I have R&D of 8,000 or 9,000, but then I have global supply chain. So that's obviously a lot of people.”

“And we have people spread all over the world, so of course it's not possible for me to reach everybody myself, but that's how we work through the management team. We have very clear, defined goals, where we are aiming for both short term and long term. We follow it up on a monthly basis how we are tracking on those.”

On time management: “So if you look at how I spend my time, it's very, very simple. Roughly 50% of my time I spend with customers. 25% of my time I do with people [I oversee]. And 25% of my time I do on strategy and solutions.”

On motivation: “I see myself as a cheerleader of these 20,000 people. If I can make 20,000 people coming to the office every day cheered up and geared up to do new things, I don't need to worry about anything else.”

“So to get people motivated is very simple. I tell my people, I say: ‘Guys, when we retire … we can tell people, our kids and grandkids, we gave you mobile internet.’ Now we can tell people we connected the world. That is the vision everybody can get excited about. And when they go home they can get excited with relatives and family and say, ‘I was part of the team which gave you mobile internet.’”

“Now this next generation can go out and say, ‘We are the people who connected the world.’ And then 5G is just an outcome of that. If you go home and say, ‘We have developed 5G,’ I don't think anybody will understand. But if you go home and say, ‘We connected the world, we gave internet in your palm,’ then my grand kid will say, ‘Wow, so you are the one that was part of the team. Thank you.’”

On the future: “Now our next goal is to make sustainable societies. We want to make this planet sustainable.”

If you would like to nominate an executive in the telecom market for this series, email us.