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Consistent connectivity

Consistent connectivity

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GTT is an American-based telecommunications and Internet service provider company, with an international reach. It connects people across organisations around the world and to every application in the cloud. Don MacNeil, Chief Operating Officer at GTT, talks to us more about the business, its methodology, strategy and his own leadership style. 

  1. Tell us a bit more about your business and how it started. 

GTT was formed in 2006 through the merging of two telecommunications companies, Global Internetworking and European Telecommunications and Technology. Since then, the company has evolved to become among the leading global network service providers in the industry. We are positioned as a nimble competitive alternative to the large incumbent telecom operators. Today we operate one of the industry’s largest global Tier 1 IP networks and provide a comprehensive set of network services. We are headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and have approximately 2,400 employees in more than 28 countries. Our global network connects 260 cities on six continents and our services footprint reaches more than 140 countries. We built our network to meet our customers’ needs for secure, high performance and scalable networking solutions.  

  1. How has the business grown since it started and how did you ensure growth? 

During the 2005 to 2018 timeframe, GTT completed over 40 acquisitions that fuelled its growth and expansion. These acquisitions contributed the company’s unique network assets and product capabilities, as well as a rich talent pool and many of our most strategic customers.  

For the last two years, we have sharpened the strategic focus of the company, divesting non-core assets and businesses while also taking action to restructure the balance sheet. We believe these strategic measures will position the company for success as we pivot towards a managed service model and continue to invest in our advanced Software Defined Networking and security technologies, products and services. 

  1. What’s the business’ approach to management?  

We are a relatively flat organisation that emphasises a collaborative approach to solving customer problems, taking ownership to deliver on our promises and striving to deliver a quality experience for our customers. With accountability, discipline and customer focus as the cornerstone of our management approach, it fosters decision making at a decentralised level, yet with the underlying support of a centralised management infrastructure which is an important element of providing a consistent experience for our customers. We believe this management approach is more responsive to the needs of our customers and assures a more positive service experience.  

  1. What is your company’s vision and goal? 

Our aim is to provide a customer experience that distinguishes GTT from the other service providers, leveraging our networking expertise and focus on solving customer challenges. Our networking solutions leverage the breadth and depth of our global Tier 1 IP network, with the ability to connect customers to anywhere in the world and deliver superior network performance. We also strive to reduce the complexity of running a global network, managing the service end-to-end for our customers supported by our global account teams, Network Operations Centres and an advanced customer portal. Our strategic execution is grounded in a customer first company culture with a focus on operational excellence and providing an outstanding service experience.  

  1. What kind of clients and market do you serve? 

We are exclusively focused on the B2B market which consists of the enterprise and carrier segments. We serve thousands of mid and large size multinational and national organisations headquartered in North America, Europe and Asia. Our customers represent a cross section of industries such as manufacturing, financial services, technology and retail and include some of the largest companies from these industry sectors. Our customers often are seeking a service provider who can connect to their locations around the world and have direct connections to the major cloud providers, while also requiring networking solutions that can accelerate their digital business strategies, expand their use of cloud IT and improve their operational efficiencies.  

  1. What has your career looked like so far? 

Much of my leadership philosophy was influenced by the earlier part of my career in the US Navy, where instilling a sense of mission and building strong teams played a key role in driving successful outcomes.  

As a leader, I believe in the power of empathy. I also believe that you need to continuously challenge employees to reach their highest potential.  

Over the course of my career in the telecommunications industry, driving accountability across all layers of an organisation is critical to achieving the best results. The fast-changing technology and competitive landscape in this industry requires the ability to learn and adapt to changing business conditions. It’s a challenging industry that helps develop leadership skills. 

  1. How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge? 

A key component of our operational excellence initiatives is investing in developing an even more skilled and knowledgeable staff. This includes establishing and building out a competency model across the organisation to make sure we have the right skills and knowledge. We are also investing in technical certifications, comprehensive training and leadership development for our highest potential employees. We understand that this investment not only drives operational improvements and better business results, but also leads to enhanced employee satisfaction while also making GTT a more attractive place to work for talent outside the company. 

  1. How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard? 

I joined GTT in 2020 as the company’s first COO. At that time, the company was undergoing a deliberate transition from an M&A driven strategy to customer first driven strategy. It was understood that executing this change of strategic focus within a framework of operational excellence would be a key driver of the company’s success. Therefore, I have found that the other leaders of the business have been very supportive of the comprehensive set of initiatives we have implemented to drive operational excellence, from more automation and digital tools to the establishment of a global platform, improved processes and investments in the product set and network capabilities that customers require. 

  1. How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?  

A critical element of our operational excellence strategy are transparent, consistent and efficient business processes. We have established a business transformation office to drive process improvements across the business. This entails new structures, policies, procedures and practices that aim to drive more discipline, standardisation and efficiency with our processes and are supported by automation and other systems improvements. The implementation of this programme is complemented by the broader employee values of collaboration and a maniacal focus on the needs of our customers.  

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