The aromas of Turkey slowly cooking permeate the house and the first presents have been opened and, at least briefly, the sun has broken through the clouds - so all is well with this part of the world - Merry Christmas to anyone who for whatever strange reason is reading these words today.
I called the Sri Lankan office a little earlier and each of my three calls was answered within a few seconds and apart from my calls there had been only a slight fall in the number of 'early morning' calls received so it's been nice to meet the first objective of establishing a support centre of our own in Sri Lanka - 365/6 days a year telephone and email support. We are slowly adding personnel in Colombo and from early in 2009 we will add more of the functions currently carried out from North Sydney (provisioning, account and payment queries/resolution, programming and network monitoring).
It's been far from easy to establish the Sri Lankan operation and then make it 'productive' and, of course, there is a very long way to go to reach and then maintain the objectives we have set for it but it has come a long way in the now three years that have elapsed since we placed our first ad for 'work from home' engineering personnel in an on line (in Sri Lanka)recruiting web site after selecting "English" as the language we wanted our ad to appear in. It is quite satisfying, I was almost going to say 'rewarding' to come up with a "hare brained scheme" (according to some people) and to actually make it work - in some ways above any expectations that we had for it.
We have almost completed the 'program' of transferring the Australian based personnel from telephone support to other duties within the North Sydney office and will finally complete that process early in January 2009 - with the transfer of the last two young engineers to the new sales functions we are setting up. This will mean that our transfer of support functions from Australia to Sri Lanka will be accomplished without any 'redundancies' in Australia - an important aspect of the process consistent with Exetel's "no fire" policy.
As someone who 'came to sales' via programming and systems engineering (back in the days when programming was in machine language and systems engineering was based on detailed knowledge of the hardware) I have no qualms about asking engineers to broaden their skill sets by applying their technical knolwedge to various sales roles - I only see benefits to both the engineer and to any prospective customer. I will be surprised if this doesn't prove to be as successful this time as it has been every other time I have done it in the past.
In many ways I am looking forward to, "one more time" building a sales force from the ground up (my two reservations are that I haven't done it for a while and I'm not sure that I have the time required as I still have other responsibilities) and while I realise that it will be very difficult, as it always has been, I am excited about what effect can be achieved in terms of more rapidy growing Exetel's customer levels in the new areas we will aim at and how great a contribution that can make to reducing our buying costs, and therefore our sales prices to all of our current customers.
If it is only half as successful as our program to transfer back office functions to Sri Lanka has been then both Exetel and our current customers will benefit greatly.
Now - back to Christmas with the family.
May your own day be joyful and fulfilling.
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