"I was speaking to a friend of mine and he told me ‘you have businesses that I didn't even know you had!'" laughed NTT Inc's CEO Jason Goodall when explaining the rationale behind the Japanese firm's mammoth integration of its 31 subsidiary companies.
"So when we were 31 separate companies we weren't doing a great job of bringing the full value that we could bring to market in a way that our clients understood it."
Earlier this year, the organisation announced it would be rolling all its subsidiary companies, including Dimension Data, White Hat, NTT Security and NTT Communications into one conglomerate, NTT Ltd. Goodall, who previously headed Dimension Data, was tapped to lead the newly revamped $11bn (£8.4bn) organisation and oversee the gargantuan task of integrating 31 companies.
The acceleration of digital transformation and the competitive nature of the market meant now was the right time for such a move, according to Goodall.
"Digital transformation is being driven by data," he explained.
"From our perspective, every one of our clients is looking to understand how they can take advantage of the power of data. They want to take advantage of it in one of four ways: to improve their revenue, to reduce their costs, to improve their client experience or to improve their employee experience."
He added that bundling the companies into one allows NTT to take full advantage of this data trend, as well as benefiting from the continued confusion from customers around multi-cloud strategies.
"One of the trends happening in the world today is that more and more clients are trying to understand how they can take advantage of a multi-cloud strategy, so they're trying to figure out which applications and which workloads should sit on what sort of environments," he elaborated.
He listed a number of ways NTT's new organisation is better positioned to help clients implement this strategy: by helping them figure out which workload to move next, assisting them in modernising their applications to be able to sit in the cloud and designing a multi-cloud architecture for those whose organisation was not set up for such a move.
Goodall spent eight years at Dimension Data, the last three heading the company before taking on the role of CEO of NTT's global operations. He admitted that his career path so far hasn't been "very fractured", and that his biggest mistake career-wise was studying accountancy.
Born in Solihull, Goodall moved with his parents to South Africa when he was three, where he spent most of his formative years, apart from a two-year spell as a teenager in Britain.
At his father's suggestion, and with the help of a bursary, he studied accountancy in Johannesburg and passed his exams, but a requirement of the bursary was to spend three years working for the company that had sponsored his studies.
"At the time, a lot of the big multinational companies had left and boycotted South Africa because of apartheid - and rightly so - but the company that had sponsored my studies owned a part of IBM and so I had to go and work my bursary back," he explained.
"I had to work there for three years, but in my first year I wanted out because I was in the accounts department. It was the worst job of my life!
"I said to my boss ‘I'm really very sorry and I know I'll probably have to pay back the money but I really can't be doing accountancy at IBM'.
"He was a great guy and said, ‘Look, IBM is not an accounting company. What we are is a very good sales and technical company. And my suggestion is that you don't know anything technically about what IBM does, so why don't you become a sales bloke?'
"And that's how I got into the tech world."
Since then Goodall's career has been a fairly straight arrow, working with Dimension Data subsidiaries until becoming the MD of its MEA operations in the early 00s.
"Inn my 25-odd years in IT, I have seen a lot of successful companies get it wrong and become irrelevant and I've seen amazing companies grow up all around me," he said.
"We happen to work in a very fast-paced, exciting environment, but there are winners and losers - and it is fairly binary. We happen to work in an industry where if you are losing you don't lose for very long because you won't exist."
Goodall believes the conglomeration of NTT is a solid stance in the constantly evolving world of technology and better positions it in the managed services space against its competitors.
"If you look at where the world's going and the way that services are being delivered, you do have to have a certain scale in order to be competitive and to be able to afford the investment that's required as we continue to automate the way that we deliver services," he stated.
"That's quite a lot of investment and it's difficult to do if you're a smaller regional player.
"I think this move puts us in a different position; we have a value proposition that resonates and we have capabilities on a very broad geographic footprint that is somewhat unique."
The Japanese firm's global head office is in London, which Goodall said was chosen irrespective of the current anxiety around Brexit as NTT will be relatively sheltered from whatever the fallout from it may be.
"As a company, we're fortunate that whatever the repercussions of Brexit, they don't really impact our business," he said.
"Unlike other businesses, such as banking, we're not regulated, so we don't have to operate under any regulatory environment that might prevent us from operating in different parts of the world, nor do we rely on any sort of specific tax-structuring or rebate-type system."
This freedom allowed NTT to choose a location for its head office based on practical terms rather than whether it was inside or outside Europe, he added.
Easy links to travel globally, time zones and a "rich resource of talent" all played into choosing the UK capital for its global operations.
Don't get comfortable
Heading the revamped NTT has given Goodall a "new lease of life" and he is excited to cultivate a culture that makes employees enthusiastic about where the company his headed.
It is vital, he said, to work with a diverse number of colleagues that complement his skills as a leader.
"It's really about understanding what you're good at and not good at as an individual and making sure that you build teams that complement you," he said.
"I think the fault a lot of us make is that you're more inclined to employ people like yourself because you are comfortable with them.
"Everyone says that, but it's not so easy to do because your natural inkling is to try to work with people you're comfortable with.
"But those are not the people that you need in the work environment; you need people who have different skills, who look at life differently, who are diverse in background and have ideas that somewhat challenge you and bring something that you don't have to the party."
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