I’ve worked in the Technology, Media and Telecoms sector for over half of my career. It is fast paced, the market dynamics are constantly changing and the constant evolution of technology can make it an exciting place to be. But sometimes, it is easy to get lost among the noise of the regulatory challenges, the price wars, the latest gadgets, the creative branding and the mega-byte boasting. The brilliant Simon Sinek tells us to ‘Start With Why’. I’d argue that those of us who have worked in the sector for a significant period of time can sometimes find that a challenge.
This week, along with many of my colleagues across Latin America and The Caribbean, I re-discovered my ‘why’…
It all began when a small clump of clouds came together near Guinea-Bissau in Africa. These clouds drifted towards the Cape Verde islands before trekking across The Atlantic Ocean towards The Americas, guided by a strong ridge of high atmospheric pressure. Before long, the clouds had transformed into a Category 5 Hurricane known as Irma – a ferocious, brutal storm that would soon wreak havoc across The Caribbean and South-Eastern United States.
In the lead up to Irma’s unwelcome arrival, I was impressed by the way that the people in this region live with the ongoing hurricane threat and prepare in advance for the worst, whether or not they choose to sit out the storm at home or evacuate to somewhere safe. Hurricane emergency kits are available at the local supermarkets and a variety of different apps offer tornado alerts, live storm footage and accurate minute-by-minute predictions of the path of any weather system.
But the real sense of clarity came after the storm. Some of the Caribbean markets within the Liberty Global footprint faced the worst of Hurricane Irma – 185 mph winds, torrential rain and flash flooding. Homes were destroyed, business devastated and lives lost. Essential items such as drinking water, petrol and food became scarce and are still in short supply. In the face of all of these ongoing challenges, communication and connectivity has become absolutely critical. People affected by the storm need to tell their families that they are safe, they need information on whether the next Hurricane (Jose) will follow behind and they need to tell the outside world how they can help.
Despite the fact that their own homes have been damaged or even destroyed, the response from our employees across Liberty Global has been simply incredible:
- In Anguilla, our retail team cleaned up and then opened the Valley store the very next day so that the public could connect to Wi-Fi, receive free credit and use their mobile devices
- In the British Virgin Islands, one employee climbed on to his roof to get a signal and update the business continuity team on the damage caused by the storm and it took us several days to reach employees in the most remote locations to check they were OK. Despite the lack of drinking water on the islands, the Cable & Wireless / Flow team have been working every hour possible to repair the network and reconnect the British Virgin Islands to the outside world
- Teams from Liberty Puerto Rico, meanwhile, have been gradually restoring the network across the Island and helping set up a centre for people travelling to get away from the worst affected areas of The Caribbean with a Wi-Fi hot spot, TV stations, mobile charging facilities and games consoles for children
People living in the areas most affected by Hurricane Irma need our help. We are re-connecting communities, enabling communication and having a positive impact on the lives of many thousands of people. That’s our mission, our purpose and that’s what we are fully focused on achieving. It is crystal clear for us all now. That is why we do what we do.