Cable & Wireless aims to serve the world

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Cable & Wireless aims to serve the worldOn 16 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today The first privatised firm in telecoms, BT’s main rival is setting its sightsfirmly on world domination in the provision of internet-based services byexpanding its already widespread global presence. By Nic PatonFrom its beginning in the 1860s, when it was at the forefront of developingtelegraph technology, Cable & Wireless has grown into one of the UK’sleading telecoms firms. The company started as a conglomerate of four telegraph companies, whichmerged to form the Eastern Telegraph Company, in turn becoming Imperial andInternational Communications and then, in 1934, Cable & Wireless. Nationalised after the Second World War, in 1981 it was the first telecomsfirm to be privatised, preceding BT by three years. It was also the companybehind the Mercury payphones that sprung up on Britain’s high-streets duringthat decade as the first serious rival to BT. The company now operates globally, divided into two divisions, Cable &Wireless Global and Cable & Wireless Regional. The Global operationencompasses Europe, the US and Japan, while the Regional arm takes in 33 othercountries, particularly the Caribbean and, most recently, Guernsey. Within Europe, it operates in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain,Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Russia. Overall, the group employs 26,000 staff, of which around 13,000 work forCable & Wireless Global. Last year it reported pre-tax profits of £61m onsales of £5.9bn. The company’s strategy for the moment is to focus on building C&W Globalinto “a world leader in internet services for business customers”. RecruitmentA total of 1,500 staff were recruited globally last year, of which 400 werebased in the UK. The tough market conditions, which have seen the cost basebeing reduced by 40 per cent, means recruitment is being radically cut thisyear. The UK target for the next 12 months is to recruit 100 staff. Cathy McNulty, senior vice-president HR, at Cable & Wireless Global,says the 50 new UK graduate recruits last year will be reduced to nine or 10,mostly in the financial areas. Graduates join a two-year job placement training scheme, moving jobs threetimes a year to gain as wide a range of experience as possible. Trainingmodules are focused on building up their skill levels through a combination ofonline training, assessment centres and telescreening. Graduates must apply online and the vast majority of CVs are now receivedvia e-mail, says McNulty. RetentionStaff turnover, at 12 per cent, is about level with the industry average.Compulsory redundancies this year mean that rate is likely to come down. The company offers a range of flexible working options, including a finalsalary pension scheme and, for new recruits, a ‘lifetime benefits’ plan. Thereare also various share save and purchase schemes in place. Staff are covered by life insurance, have private healthcare, dental careand subsidised childcare vouchers. Work sabbaticals, job sharing and reducedhours’ packages are also available. Women who have been with the company more than 12 months can take eightweeks’ maternity leave on full pay, after which it reverts to 10 weeks on thestatutory minimum. After 10 years service, workers are entitled to an extra day annual leave.Call centre staff have exactly the same terms and conditions as otheremployees, stresses McNulty. Discretionary benefits include long-term invalidity benefit, payment ofprofessional subscriptions, season tickets, cheap car leasing and discountedgym membership. Training and development Cable & Wireless has outsourced its training and development toAccenture, part of a five-year contract announced in December worth anestimated £80m. A core team of eight remain at Cable & Wireless to deal with strategictraining and development initiatives. A further eight people work on deliveringtechnical training needs. The majority of training and development is carried out online. On 1 April,Cable & Wireless rolled out a new performance management system accessiblefrom the desktop, including an e-HR system, again run by Accenture. This linksinto the formal review process, including the creation of personal developmentplans. Where appropriate, for instance for customer service or technical, operationand network training, training is carried out in a classroom or ‘shop floor’setting. Like many in the sector, Cable & Wireless has moved away from planning aset number of training days for staff or new recruits, expecting training to bean ongoing, constant process. Performance management Key performance indicators are a central part of the appraisal process atCable & Wireless. Indicators are drawn up designed to drive forwardobjectives, says McNulty. HR is closely linked to the business strategy, which is currently focused onreducing costs, increasing organisational efficiency, improving performance andenabling business managers to manage more effectively. The company’s values – team work, integrity, innovation and customer action– are linked to the performance management system (see above) through theoffice intranet. Succession planning meetings are held at group level three times a year, asimilar number of times at global level and cascade on down the business. HR priorities for the year Perhaps inevitably given the tough state of the sector, focused on managingcosts and supporting the business to reach its financial objectives. HR factfileCathy McNulty Senior vice-president HR, at Cable & Wireless GlobalMcNulty joined Cable & Wirelessin 1997, having started her career with BT before moving into investmentbanking. Starting in head office, she rose to become HR director of theRegional business before transferring to the Global side last year. She became senior vice-president HR, at Cable & WirelessGlobal on 1 April, succeeding Avery Duff.The best part of the job, she says, is that it is such afast-moving environment. “You really feel you are making a difference,adding something to the bottom line. You feel you can have a direct impact onthe business.” The downside, in such a global business, is the amount oftravelling involved and the hours involved. “Often I will be at my desk at7am for a conference call with Tokyo, but then I’ll need to do one for the USat 4.30pm. You need a lot of energy,” she says.McNulty is not on the Cable & Wireless board and her salarywas not disclosed.Size of HR team120 people globally, of which 65 are based in the UK.HR department structureThe Global HR team is aligned to the businesses, therefore,McNulty has staff in the UK, US and Japan and spread across Europe. The teamdivides into HR business partners, specialists, the outsourced function andservice management.Ratio of HR to employeesAbout 1:80/100 within the UKAmong business partners – the operational side of the HRfunction – it is closer to 1 to 175/200.Key HR initiativesThe HR team has been closely involved in looking at the designof the global sales force, in particular whether it should be structuredgeographically or on a sector basis.How she spends her time– change management, key appointmentsand organisational design issues– is spent on retention and compensation issues– on succession planning, talent and reward structures anddriving performance– on enabling the business to be managed more effectively Related posts:No related photos.last_img

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