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Azerbaijan 2015 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Kent McNeley, CEO of Azerfon (Nar Mobile), on sponsoring the European Games, successes in 2014, and SMEs.

 Kent McNeley
BIOGRAPHY
Kent McNeley is the CEO of Azerfon (Nar Mobile) and has been serving on its Board of Directors and acting as an advisor to the CRA group of companies since 2012. Prior to joining Azerfon, he worked as CEO of Riera Ventures, a worldwide telecommunications and internet consulting firm. He gained experience in Russia and the CIS as Group Chief Marketing Officer of VimpelCom, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies by subscribers. He previously served as Vice-President and Global Chief Marketing Officer for Eastman Kodak and Vice-President for Client Services and Marketing for Citibank in Puerto Rico and Singapore. He began his career working for Procter & Gamble in the US.

Nar Mobile has been the official sponsor of the 2015 European Games since July 2014. How important has that been for the company's strategy?

We are proud to be the Official Partners of the Baku 2015 European Games, and Sponsor of the Baku 2015 European Games Volunteer Program. We were the second sponsor to sign on, and it is a huge responsibility because this is one of the largest events that has ever been held in Azerbaijan involving more people and resources than anything before it. For us to be selected as a sponsor is a tribute to the fact that we have been making great progress in the quality of our network and our customer service for the last years. We are putting a huge amount of effort to making sure that everything we do provides the best possible service not only to those in Azerbaijan and the athletes joining the games, but also to the guests that will be coming from all over Europe for this event. We know that our customers are proud of their cultural heritage and national athletes. Therefore, it is a major honor for us to play such a significant role related to the Games that will enter the history of Azerbaijan as an important moment. We are fully prepared to share the joy of the Azerbaijani population during the Games and to contribute to the success of the Games.

In terms of customer subscription, revenue, and data traffic, how successful was 2014 for Nar Mobile?

Revenue was up double digits to more than 10%, and we were the only mobile operator in the country that grew in terms of revenue last year. In terms of subscribers, we grew as well, not on a percentage basis but on an absolute number basis. Our subscriber growth is also close to double digits. We doubled in data revenue; therefore, we have had two consecutive years of more than doubling data revenue.

ICT has been identified as a key sector for SME development in Azerbaijan. To what extent can Nar Mobile support this?

SMEs represent an important sector, and we have identified several programs to support it. As an example, we have a unit within our outgoing telemarketing that will directly go after SME accounts, and try to offer the services that we provide. We are working on packaging a number of services that will be helpful for SMEs, and we will have a specific offering for SMEs.

In what way can Nar Mobile support youth development in Azerbaijan?

We regularly implement educational programs, and there are a number of projects that we are working on at the moment. We support the Enactus international program, the main mission of which is to improve business, leadership and presentation skills among students, to educate students on implementation of business projects, as well as to support professional development of young people. Students work in teams to present their start up projects. Last year, the winning team represented Azerbaijan in the Enactus World Cup 2014, which took place in Beijing.

Bearing in mind the aforementioned partnership with Microsoft, what is the potential to establish more international collaborations?

There is always potential for more international collaborations. Usually, we try to find ones that are consistent with a theme that we are trying to develop. However, we are primarily focused on Azerbaijan. We support culture, sports, youth, and education. Many of our programs are focused on Azerbaijan, supporting local causes and events.