Riding out the storm

Telenor Denmark’s Kristian Winther Ebert thrives in environments that present real challenges, whether it’s riding his bike through a cyclone or taking the network in Denmark from worst to first.

Written: Jun 2014

Kristian Winther Ebert , Head of Strategy and Business Performance Management in Telenor Denmark, bicycles the 30 kilometers to and from work every day, no matter what. In October 2013, he even rode his bike home through the cyclone Christian, a storm with record gusts of up to 194.4 km/h.

“We only have one car, that my wife who is a dentist uses, so I have to bike in all sorts of weather conditions.  Especially on this day, everyone was questioning why I still took the bike. I had to get home and it was totally out of the question to grab a cab or a train – I never do that,” explains Kristian.

From Worst to First

Kristian’s inclination for riding through stormy weather seems to also extend into his professional life. Telenor Denmark operates in one of the most challenging markets in the world, characterized by intense competition and severe price pressure. When Kristian joined Telenor Denmark in 2010, the company also had the worst network both from a technical standpoint and in terms of the perceived network experience among Danish consumers.“We had to fundamentally look at how we could improve.  As part of this strategy we initiated a project, named “Nitro”, in which all parts of the company had to come together to form a joint-venture with TeliaSonera . And for the first time in history we created a network sharing agreement for all technologies, 2G, 3G and 4G, and this gave us the best network,” says Kristian.

By coming together both internally and by looking to a competitor for a mutually beneficial solution, Kristian and Telenor Denmark were able to achieve something that was truly in the best interest of the customers. Their motivation was more than simply “beating” the competition, but rather engaging with the competition in order to find a win-win solution.

It was about one month ago that Telenor Denmark launched its new campaign saying that:  We have the strongest network, but do not believe in advertising. We will give you a SIM card of 200MB free to check it out for yourselves.

“This is such a strong proof point for something we were so uncomfortable about only three years ago,” says Kristian.

Relationships + Results = Happiness at work

“We cannot contribute going from worst to first to one single person. This was down to great people working together.  It sounds like corporate bullshit, but this is real. To see the practical outcome and result of that now makes me very passionate and very proud,” says Kristian with conviction.

“When working on projects or in everyday business, I try to promote collaboration and team work in order to motivate and engage people around me. What really makes me happy at work is when we are able to create great relationships and results by working together through challenging and stormy times. Those special moments when a team pulling together starts to feel that this is now going in the right direction -they are priceless! When I feel that I have contributed to that kind of atmosphere, that drives endurance and engagements, that is when I feel the happiest at work,” says Kristian.

“Even during the most difficult times, when we as a team are tested the most, we must always be able to smile and to laugh and to have fun together. This is so important!” he adds.

Kristian is living proof that when rough weather hits, it’s not time to run away. Telenor Denmark has shown that finding win-win solutions with seemingly unlikely partners, cross-functional collaboration and true teamwork can help us ride out any kind of storm.