«I think that with my experience in the telecommunications sector as operational CEO and via my various board of directors' mandates, I can support the management and CEO.»
Olaf Swantee, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Olaf Swantee has many years of extensive international experience in managing and directing big companies, including, among other things, as CEO of Sunrise Communications. During his period of office as CEO of EE, Olaf Swantee successfully merged Orange and T-Mobile in the United Kingdom. Between 2007 and 2011, he worked in senior positions at France Telecom (now Orange Group), among other things as head of the European mobile communications and fixed line business. Since August 2020, he has been chairman of the board of directors at Community Fibre and since June 2021 member of the board of directors at Anapaya Systems AG. In the past, he has held numerous board of directors' mandates in the telecommunications sector, including at Telia, Mobistar and at Mobinil. Olaf Swantee studied economics and obtained an MBA at the European School of Management.
OLAF SWANTEE, YOU WERE ELECTED ON 7 APRIL 2021 BY THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AS THE NEW CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF MOBILEZONE. WHAT IS YOUR CONCLUSION AFTER ROUGHLY THE FIRST FOUR MONTHS IN OFFICE?
As part of my preparation for the office of chairman of the board of directors, I had numerous discussions with Markus Bernhard and spent a lot of (partially virtual) time with him. I met the most important sales partners of mobilezone in Switzerland. Once it became possible again, I visited the German company in Cologne and gained valuable insights. Moreover, since August 2020, I had attended all Board of Directors' meetings in order to be able to get a comprehensive picture of mobilezone. From this, I've drawn a very positive conclusion: mobilezone is a strong, stable company with a very good, experienced management team. As the sole independent telecommunications provider in Switzerland with over 120 shops and huge potential in online business, mobilezone is in a stable and strategically very good position. In my view, mobilezone is so successful because the company has well-trained, highly motivated employees. During various visits to the shops and headquarters in Rotkreuz, I got a very positive impression of how the brand mobilezone is represented and lived by the employees. The team of our German companies has also demonstrated great commitment. Seeing such great motivation is a pleasure.
MOBILEZONE SUCCEEDED IN FINISHING THE FIRST HALF-YEAR WITH AN EXCELLENT RESULT. YOU MUST BE VERY SATISFIED WITH THIS.
Of course, I'm very satisfied. The good result shows that mobilezone is also capable of excellent performance during difficult phases. Moreover, it's very gratifying that the EBIT margin along with the gross margin developed very well. Management has succeeded in establishing a very good balance between the German and Swiss business. In Germany, positive development is evident, which makes the entire business even more stable. In the Swiss business, I think what the sales management with the support of the employees at headquarters and all the other companies has managed, despite difficult conditions, is simply fantastic. The result is also very gratifying, since the targets forecast by management for the first half-year of 2021 were not only reached, but very clearly exceeded. This gives me confidence of becoming even stronger in the individual growth areas. In Germany, this is in the online business and in Switzerland, at TalkTalk, in the corporate customer area and in particular product areas in retail, such as in Internet and television offers, telecommunications accessories and in the Internet of Things.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO TAKE ON THE MANDATE AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AT MOBILEZONE? HOW DID THE CONTACT COME ABOUT?
I know my predecessor, Urs T. Fischer, from back in the day. We worked together at the company Digital in 1990. As CEO of Sunrise, I could look back on many years of good business relations with mobilezone. In the first quarter of 2020, the company asked me whether I would be available as candidate for the post of chairman of the board of directors to succeed Urs T. Fischer. After initial discussions, the official process took place with the Nomination Committee; finally, the Board of Directors proposed me to the annual general meeting as chairman of the board of directors. If you accept such a position, you have to have great confidence in the capabilities of the CEO and the management team and be able to cooperate well. Markus Bernhard and his management team are positioned excellently – the decision was correspondingly easy for me. I also think that with my experience in the telecommunications sector as operational CEO and via my various board of directors' mandates, I can support the management and CEO. And not least, mobilezone, as already mentioned, is a stable company with a lot of potential. This inspired me to take on the office.
mobilezone is a leader in the telecommunications sector. The figures are reliable and the management strong. Continuity of these good results is important and we will also strive for this in future. mobilezone concluded the final step in its strategic reorientation in Germany with the sale of the wholesale business of einsAmobile GmbH in January 2021. We are in a good strategic position with this sale. Growing in the individual areas is what counts now. Moreover, I would like to continue to emphasise corporate governance. Sustainability is important to me. Efforts in this direction are to be continued and the strategy further developed. Further improvement in the core processes in the sense of operational excellence is another strategic priority. To boost efficiency, we are currently testing the IT infrastructure and will reconstruct it accordingly where necessary.
mobilezone will also assert itself more in the e-commerce sector in the longer term – not just in Germany, but also in Switzerland. We will orient ourselves strategically in line with this. Expansion of our production portfolio is likewise strategically important. The market trend is towards convergence products. Our partners in Switzerland and Germany already rely on these bundles consisting of Internet and television. We want to develop further here. Our main business will clearly remain mobile communications, but subjects such as the Internet of Things, expansion of the accessory range and of the business customer portfolio will become more important for mobilezone. In cultural terms, mobilezone is an exciting company: in Switzerland mobilezone has a strong corporate culture with strong values. mobilezone in Germany also has strong corporate values that are lived in everyday life. I hope that in the long term we will adopt the best of both cultures and in this way succeed in developing a Group-wide corporate culture.
That's right, I'm on the road a lot due to work. In England, I'm chairman of the board of directors at Community Fibre and member of the board of directors at Vodafone. I spend a few days in each case in London and then another few days in Switzerland. Here I support two start-ups from the technology sector. I balance my professional daily routine with my family at home in Switzerland and in the mountains. In winter, I'm involved with anything that has to do with skiing, whether cross-country skiing, ski tours or Alpine skiing. In summer, I'm in the water, whether swimming or wind surfing.