After decades of running telecom operators, Ken Campbell is leading the development of PMP Strategy in the UK capital.
Where did you first hear about PMP Strategy?
From 2011 to 2019, I was successively CEO of the Tunisian telecom operator Ooredoo, then of the Moroccan operator, Inwi. I had never heard of PMP Strategy when I was working for various TelCos in Canada, Eastern Europe and Egypt. But when I started working in Maghreb, I also started working with them from time to time, even though we did not make extensive use of consulting services.
What key factors influenced your choosing PMP Strategy?
There were at least two. PMP Strategy has proven capable of leading projects from beginning to end, in the context of mergers or partnerships between operators – from strategy to implementation. I also made use of their services two or three times a year, because I noticed that, from their juniors to their seniors, they had a keen experience with TelCos – a rare quality for more generalist firms.
Which other consulting firms did you use to work with?
Roland Berger, Kearney and Arthur D. Little.
After you left Morocco, why did you decide to join PMP Strategy?
Gilles Vaqué [president and managing partner at PMP Strategy] offered that I become a senior advisor for PMP Strategy, initially for a few days a month. I had another offer from a large consulting firm but I thought that I could make more of a difference at PMP than elsewhere. Not least because of my international background. I could leverage that aspect of my career better at PMP Strategy than at a large firm; where you are often limited to specific geographical sectors and can’t necessarily move around much. PMP Strategy also gives me the opportunity to sit on the boards of various telecommunications companies – as long as there are no conflicts of interest with the firm’s consulting missions. This highly valuable opportunity lets me keep up with the shifting market trends [Ken Campbell is on the boards of TeraGo and NuRAN in Toronto, Octotel in South Africa, and Upstream in Greece].
But being a senior advisor does not require the same level of commitment as being a partner and running an office. When and why did you fully join PMP Strategy? Why did you agree to run the firm’s new London office?
We started winning quite a few projects, and so I was naturally more involved with the firm. Furthermore, London also suited me for personal and professional reasons. It’s a pivotal business hub for projects around the world.
Isn’t opening the London office of a French strategy consulting firm a challenge?
Not at all! It is easy with PMP Strategy’s client base in France, to reach out to London. The telecom and consulting market is truly global. To be successful, you may have to be in Cape Town one day, Toronto the next, and then Paris.
However, in contrast to others, PMP Strategy remains less global than a number of its competitors.
Not really true. In 2022, I conducted projects in the Philippines, Canada, the United States, the UK, Ireland, France, Poland, Nigeria and so on! I don’t feel that our footprint is any smaller than what larger firms can do.
“The French are always late!” you joked before our interview. As an anglo among a firm with its origin in France, how much of an effort do you have to make to adapt?
Quite frankly, none. There is an outstanding level of training of the firm’s teams and a rigorous recruitment process. And this applies to Paris, but also to Casablanca, Madrid, Montreal and Brussels – all our offices. The firm is also savvy in adapting what works well in the field of telecommunications in France at an international level. Take the development of fibre: in this regard, France is one of the most advanced countries in Europe. And we can bring that level of understanding and excellence to customers in other markets.
In Paris, when you want to do strategy consulting, you set up your office in the 8th arrondissement. In London, where should you set up shop for strategy consulting?
I am not sure that a location matters much anymore but it helps to be in the city centre, even if a lot of the work is done remotely. PMP Strategy’s office is in St James’s Square, just off Piccadilly Circus.
16 months after opening, how is PMP Strategy doing in London and the UK?
We are eight consultants: six juniors, and two more experienced. Reef Read, an Australian associate director who has been a consultant at PMP Paris since 2016 within the TMT practice, works with me in managing the office. He splits his time between Bordeaux and London. We are achieving 2.5 times our initial objectives. We have created relationships with new clients who then return to us – which is a good sign. And from the UK, we have worked in South Africa, Ireland, Poland… and even France!
Can you give us examples of some notable projects for PMP Strategy in London?
There are several. We have worked on many altnet efforts – both due diligence and strategy. We were the strategic advisor for the acquisition of a majority stake in National Broadband Ireland by the Spanish infrastructure fund Asterion. Similarly, we were involved in the acquisition of a majority stake in the television and radio broadcaster, Arqiva by the Digital 9 Infrastructure fund.
So, for now, you are all about due diligence?
Not at all. Our pedigree is strategy and operations. We are now also undertaking commercial and operational strategy consulting engagements for operators and expanding to new sectors in energy and transport.
What does London mean to PMP Strategy now? And how should it evolve in the next five years?
There are very few projects where only consultants from the London office are involved. I like to say we are geographically agnostic. We almost always work with several offices at once. London, like PMP’s other international offices, is not just another flag to fly. It is part of a cultural transformation from a French company to an international company – with English, Americans, Spaniards, Indians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Irish, Italians… even a few Canadians.. A truly international culture. This is our vision for what comes next.
By Benjamin Polle, for Consultor, January 7, 2023
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