Meinie Oldersma, the new CEO of 20:20 Mobile, spent the eleventh day of his new job at Mobile World Congress to meet some key customers and suppliers.
It was the first chance for many to meet the man with arguably the hardest job in the UK mobile industry at the moment.
I arranged to meet the Dutchman outside the T-Mobile pavilion. I was running late after a spell where David and I hit gold, bumping into the GfK gang, Rob Lewis from Omnifone and new CEO of O2 for Europe, Matthew Key. Oldersma was on time, and smiling broadly.
We wandered down to the cafeteria as he talked through his views on distribution, the different nature of the IT distribution market and gave a fascinating insight into the workings of a modern Chinese business.
Doughty Hanson’s PR man agreed to the meeting as long as it was off-the-record on a ‘get to know you’ basis.
So what’s he like? Based on a 40-minute chat, he’s convivial and manages to combine a fresh energy with plenty of experience.
He has some detailed ideas on moving from the transactional to the more service-based. He explained the complexities of IT distribution and why service was a big part of IT distribution.
There is no doubting his credentials, and the persona to impress suppliers, customers, staff internally as well as the bankers.
On the downside, it doesn’t change the realities of the market where the value of distribution as an entity in itself is being eroded as manufacturer and retailers both seem alienated by distribution.
Oldersma’s predecessor, Mark Ryan, spoke at length on many of the same themes but the company failed to convince some of its partners. Similarly, the rest of the management have all spoken about ‘added value’. Whether Oldersma succeeds or fails rests not him knowing about improving the service, but about his ability to execute that.
He said he knows the company faces some very serious challenges. He also has to quickly learn the nuances of the mobile market and marry that with his experience in IT distribution.
He was running the Chinese division of IT distributor Ingram Micro where he tripled revenue from $400m to $1.2bn and doubled profits in the process.
Overseas expansion is one element, but he sees plenty of potential in fixing 20:20’s domestic market as the main priority.
He says he has been working flat out since he joined – virtually living in his office.