In April, the phone rang – “You may not remember me, but we worked together on the Virgin Media rebrand….” Of course I remembered him! The former Director of Mobile Delivery at Virgin Media, Bryn was now CTO at Three (H3G). He needed help making sure negotiations on a key strategic programme involving MBNL, Three’s network joint venture with EE, were successful and completed on time. I jumped at the chance to work with Bryn again, and to learn about the one of the UK’s largest mobile networks.
From the beginning, I was impressed with the team. One of Bryn’s deputies said when he joined it was “like a breath of fresh air.” The team tasked with making the negotiations successful included finance, commercial, legal, procurement, technical design and deployment, operations and even operating model experts bent on ensuring Three’s internal design was built for JV success. Without exception, the level of ownership was higher than I’d seen anywhere else – it was their job, and they knew it.
It was a brilliant 8 months. Challenging to help get the three organisations across the line, with shared goals defined and negotiated and all parties looking forward to future fruitful partnership. It wasn’t easy. EE had been acquired by BT, and their world was in flux. External market changes were having an impact as always. But from the outset the teams were committed to getting the job done.
My role was to coach, schedule, push, help define, structure, facilitate, and evolve our approach and methodology as negotiations progressed. Every day, the question was, what can we close? We moved from technical specification and design leading the way to commercial negotiation and legal drafting taking over. We moved with the ebb and flow of the availability of SMEs who sometimes struggled for bandwidth to address all the demands on their time. Throughout, there was Executive engagement across all three businesses. This was important, and good people were on it.
By mid-December, we had technical agreement in all areas and drafting completed in most. External factors meant that the negotiations would continue into the new year with internal resources.