Embracing risk is something that falls naturally for Andre Hansen. With only a few customers in his suitcase, and a garage to work from, Global Wholesale’s regional head of Americas built up Telenor’s wholesale business in Miami from scratch.
Born with Determination
Andre started early on to learn about the dynamics of being an entrepreneur. He was born and grew up in the US with Norwegian parents. “My dad was involved in several startups and I learned all about trading from him”. After finishing his studies in Silicon Valley, Andre joined his father and together they started to import fish from Norway to the US.
Joining the Telenor Family
Passion for international business has been driving Andre all his life. He has always been eager to learn and thus set out for a new chapter in his life by moving back to Norway. In 2001, he started as product manager in Telenor Global Services and shortly took over as an Account Manager for the African region. “From my experience in Africa, I learned to be patient. There was no rushing into things there. In the Americas, I learned a new dimension of speed. The US market is lightning fast and you need to be on top of things to get deals done.”
Treasure hunting or Mission impossible?
Andre likes to makes a real difference and is not afraid to go the extra mile. After having done business in Africa for more than 5 years, he looked at potential areas where he could leverage his experience. “The US is the leading country when it comes to international voice traffic. So I was thinking, how can we get a piece of that cake? I chose Miami, not only because of the weather but first and foremost because it is one of the top five telco hubs in the Americas and not to forget – it is the gateway to Latin America. Anything can happen.”
It’s all about getting the foot into the door
“The first two years were quite challenging. I was working out of an industrial office as it was called, but basically it was a garage, with no windows. In the early days, there were two big challenges. One was the time difference, which can really kill you, especially when I tried to solve technical issues for the customers.”
The other big challenge was the Telenor brand. Almost nobody knew us. Getting the foot into the door was hard but once I could present our presence and subscriber numbers, the customers were quite impressed.” Telenor was able to create a niche in the world’s largest market because of our high quality service.
Hard work pays off
Two and a half years into the game, Andre got help from both an Account and Destination manager. “That was a real game changer. Now we were able to serve our customers in real time. Our big advantage was to secure quality by sending the voice traffic on our direct routes. It is great to see that our hard work is paying off.
“From when I started in 2013 until now we had a 1600 % increase in revenue growth.”
The future looks bright
2016 has been a very exciting year for the US office. “We are now a team of 4 people and just moved into our new office space outside Fort Lauderdale where we co-locate with Telenor Maritime. My team is my greatest inspiration. They have backgrounds from Israel, Cuba and Columbia, which help a lot in establishing relationships in new markets, especially South America and the Caribbean. They have an incredible energy and positive outlook. It is a real pleasure to be ‘on the front line’ together with them.
Consolidating our Presence
“To really expand our presence in the Americas, I am happy to announce that we are adding 2 new PoPs (Point of presence) in the US (Miami and Ashburn). Having a local presence in the US is extremely important to our external partners, as they require a global footprint, beyond the Telenor markets. By expanding our global IP backbone, we can provide better quality and open up to all of the Americas.
Taking some risk is necessary if we want to grow and establish ourselves among the big players – and I am happy to give everything I can to make that happen.”