We talked to Guillaume van Gaver, CEO of LINK Mobility, Europe’s leading provider of mobile communications and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Guillaume van Gaver: On the difficult side of COVID, it is not fun for my kids who are studying at the university. On the positive side, we have been lucky that COVID cases were milder, including the senior family members. On the unexpected side was the fact that my wife and I see each other almost 100% compared to almost weekend-only before!
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined LINK Mobility.
Guillaume van Gaver: I joined the company in 2019. The board did a thorough search process, but I also studied the company deeply before joining. I am very happy this has been a good choice. My career has been very international, starting with Sales and Marketing roles in Telecommunication, Insurance and Retail. I have worked in B2B and B2C. Actually, I love B2B2C companies such as LINK where the End Customer is always in mind.
How does LINK Mobility innovate?
Guillaume van Gaver: We have chosen two areas of innovation with one general principle. The two areas are machine learning messaging orchestration and an innovative Marketing Application Store. The general principle within innovation is that we want to welcome innovative solutions and software to be resold by LINK to our customers as a package. Our principle is that we should always copy with pride internally or externally.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Guillaume van Gaver: We braced for impact in April. We had to take cost reduction initiatives to the extent that we asked employees for a temporary salary reduction and temporary lay-offs. Despite a couple of difficult months, we were able to recover fast and reimbursed salary reductions quickly. I would like to thank all of them as more than 90% of employees accepted this reduction. After Q2 2020, we even saw a strong growth which enables us to re-invest and agree to a new offensive strategy.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Guillaume van Gaver: As explained above, we had to make tough decisions. Transparency is the most important factor in these situations. You want to avoid being pessimistic with your colleagues, but if the situation is difficult or very difficult, you have a duty to share openly. The leadership team needs to perform during a crisis with a high level of trust and strong collaboration. We saw that we collectively found good solutions for difficult problems. You have to accept and also understand when mistakes have been made.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Guillaume van Gaver: We had to use our customer relationship management to be focused on cash collection. We had no choice but to be very cash focused. Besides cash, we have looked at the ways we could help customers who needed technical solutions urgently. Our operations teams did miracles to implement solutions fast, and our CRM systems were critical for efficiency.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Guillaume van Gaver: We did not benefit from specific grants as such, but the employees on temporary lay-offs benefited from government support. We also benefitted from delayed tax or tax reductions schemes.
Your final thoughts?
Guillaume van Gaver: Don’t waste a difficult crisis! The world is suffering. What can we learn from it? Can we increase health coordination further? How can we reduce our carbon footprint with fewer travels at the same time, enabling people to meet and exchange ideas and projects? When societies are re-opening, what can each of us implement to make our world a better place to live?
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