Vodafone could be forced to launch its 4G proposition without a UK consumer director following the sudden departure of Srini Gopalan this week.
The operator has had to divide Gopalan’s role between a number of Vodafone board directors while it hunts for a successor, after he quit Vodafone on Monday (15 April) to take up a post with a rival operator outside of the UK. It is not known which company Gopalan is moving to.
The move raises questions about how Gopalan’s departure will affect the execution of Vodafone’s 4G plans. Gopalan was seen as a key player with a reputation as a skilled marketer who brought a much more focused and commercial approach to the operator.
Phil Kendall of Strategy Analytics said: ‘Vodafone is facing a big challenge on where to position its 4G offering and how to drive that into the consumer business. How they execute that marketing message and selling that to the end user is vital to their success.’
Industry players said this week Gopalan would be a hard act to follow. He is seen by many as a moderniser who significantly changed Vodafone’s retail and consumer culture. One distributor said: ‘He is an impressive guy who has been hugely influential and instrumental in driving change at Vodafone, changing the mindset there and making them a much less closeted and conservative bunch. He was tough but well respected in the industry.’
A major retailer said: ‘He is a quality individual who has done a very good job and it is sad to see people like that go.’
A network source said: ‘He has a reputation for building effective marketing campaigns that have really built Vodafone’s marketshare.’
Gopalan joined Vodafone in February 2010 from T-Mobile where as chief marketing officer he built a reputation for being a dynamic leader who injected greater commercial thinking into T-Mobile’s marketing strategy. One of his major tasks at Vodafone has been the upgrade of Vodafone’s store portfolio. The £50m store overhaul has so far seen over half of Vodafone’s stores kitted out with a ‘modular’ format, with improved links between Vodafone stores and its online business, to better capture customers that search online before coming into store.
Gopalan also played a key role in broadening Vodafone’s customer demographic, with the launch of more youth oriented campaigns such as Vodafone’s Freebee Rewardz scheme and in strengthening Vodafone’s pre-pay performance and broadening its contract offerings.
Vodafone declined to comment.
Author: Carol Millett