Mission Asia:
Diversity at the heart of the new Asia Hub

PRODUCED BY TELENOR

World
World

OSLO

SINGAPORE

World

SINGAPORE

There’s a lot of passion at play when it comes to the team behind Telenor’s new Asia Hub. This is the story of how it all began.

“Do you want to be a part of building a completely new organisation in Asia?”

That was the question posed to Tone Skuterud (by then-CFO Jørgen Rostrup) in the early days of 2020, before we’d ever heard the word COVID-19. At the time, Skuterud was working as Head of the Internal Audit & Investigation function for the entire Telenor Group. She’d spent her career traversing the globe and leading diverse teams, and she was always open to working abroad…if the right opportunity were to arise. Professionally, the idea of playing a central role in building up the Asia Hub was extremely inspiring to Skuterud. However, personally, the decision was an incredibly challenging one to make.

“I knew that my family was in no position to move to Singapore,” Skuterud tells us.  With two grown up kids in university and one in her last year of high school, plus a husband in a job he loves, all in Norway – Skuterud knew that a move to Singapore wasn’t something she could ask of them.  

“We spent a great deal of time discussing this as a family, as accepting this role meant that I would need to live in Singapore for two years. However, both my husband and kids encouraged me to grab the opportunity to serve as part of the Asia Hub management team. And we all agreed that a role as Head of Leadership and Culture was too meaningful for me to pass up.” 

COVID-19 hit a short while later, throwing a wrench into Skuterud’s relocation plans

A global pandemic, though, didn’t stop Tone and the rest of the Asia Hub team from beginning their work. It also gave Tone some more precious time with her family before heading off.

“The support from my family was important for me when making the decision to move. I hope that I can be a role model, especially to my daughters, and show them that we can do anything we set our minds to do. Hopefully it will inspire my kids to do the same; grab opportunities, broaden their horizons and believe in something so much that you are able to make the tough decisions.

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Skuterud isn’t the only Telenor Hub employee who is motivated by the idea of strengthening and safeguarding Telenor’s interests in Asia. Telenor Pakistan’s Kiran Fatima Zaidi had a big decision to make when she was offered the role as Director of Talent Management for Asia Hub. With two small children, aged four and seven, as well as a husband happy in his career, saying ‘Yes’ wasn’t exactly simple.

“We took our time in deliberating the opportunity, and I had numerous discussions with family, friends and colleagues. All were ever encouraging and guiding me through the process. The opportunity is an exciting one. We as a family unit decided to explore this wonderful opportunity and it’s been great so far," says Zaidi.

Upon arrival in Singapore, Skuterud spent two weeks confined to her hotel room, as part of the mandatory quarantine in times of COVID-19. This photo is taken during Skuterud’s interview with us.


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Upon arrival in Singapore, Skuterud spent two weeks confined to her hotel room, as part of the mandatory quarantine in times of COVID-19. This photo is taken during Skuterud’s interview with us.


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Closed borders can’t stop the Asia Hub

Skuterud, Zaidi, and the 35 others uprooting their lives to move to Singapore have been working remotely during the pandemic, patiently waiting for the borders to re-open. Skuterud recently completed her quarantine in Singapore, where she was confined to her hotel room over a 14-day period. Zaidi, with her family in tow, is in the midst of two weeks of isolation before finally starting her new life in the country.

“The people we’ve hired into the Hub are excited to be a part of establishing something, making an impact from the start, defining how we will work, the strategy, and our ambitions. We can truly explore the best ways to support and collaborate with the Telenor companies in Asia, getting much closer to the business. This Hub is a bold move from Telenor, but also a bold move for the 52 employees that make up this new team,” says Skuterud.


Kiran Zaidi (left) and her family have made the big decision to uproot their lives in Pakistan and re-locate to Singapore, in order for Zaidi to take on the challenge to support the talent pipeline and mobility across Asia for Telenor.


New team to be the ‘Hub’ that connects the Asian BUs

In the technology world, most associate the word ‘hub’ with a central device. An instrument that  connects multiple computers to a single network. It’s a good analogy for Telenor’s Asia Hub, serving as a central team that connects multiple Telenor companies in Asia. Telenor Asia is now led by former Telenor CFO Jørgen Rostrup, who announced the merging of the company’s two Asia clusters and the launch of the Hub in late March 2020.

Upon launch Rostrup said “I see great potential in bringing the Asian clusters together as one strong team with a mandate to explore the potential across our markets, and to actively engage with the business environments in the region. I’m eager to join forces with the teams in Asia to continue this journey of creating value and driving growth.”

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Rostrup quickly put in place an Asian Hub management team, to support all of the company’s Asian markets in fuelling growth, exploring value-creating opportunities, and working diligently to safeguard Telenor’s interests in the region. The functions represented in Rostrup’s team include business performance, mergers and acquisitions, external relations, board governance and Skuterud’s own area of leadership and culture.

Telenor Asia is stronger, together

Asia has long been the growth engine for Telenor. It represents the majority of the company’s customer base (173 million out 182 million total), 54 percent of the annual revenues (Q2 2020), and it possesses huge untapped potential in a world of almost ubiquitous mobile connectivity. With telcos today challenged to find their role in an ever-changing landscape, it’s more important than ever that Telenor uses its collective might to make the right moves in the region.

“Our goal is to work as integrated teams with our local markets, strengthening their efforts and being their partners and advisors. At the same time, we have a birds-eye view. We’ll take the best from one unit and bring that to the others, ensuring that best practices are shared, that we learn from each other, and that we are able to give mobility opportunities to our talented people across the company,” says Skuterud.

“In the end, it is all about behaviours. We need to ensure that our leaders are equipped to implement the desired business culture.”

“Our goal is to work as integrated teams with our local markets, strengthening their efforts and being their partners.”
”Our goal is to work as integrated teams with our local markets, strengthening their efforts and being their partners.”
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An important mission requires a talented and diverse team

Asia Hub’s mission is an important one: to continue to fuel the growth and value creation in Asia. That made it even more critical to put the right team in place. From the very beginning, diversity was a top priority. Diversity in competence, background, nationality and gender were all factors in the hiring process. It was not an exercise in bringing people from Norway to Singapore, but a concerted effort to find the best people and ensure that the team as a whole reflects the markets they serve, confirmed Skuterud.

“We established KPIs on diversity in the hiring process, as we had many open positions to fill. With this as a starting point, we held weekly calibration meetings to discuss candidates. That meant that no single person picked his or her own teams,” she shares.

“However, I must add that it was easy for us to fill the roles since we have a really strong internal talent pool across our various markets.”



Rostrup made it a point from the start. The Asia Hub would be a diverse and talented team.


Asia Hub achieves true diversity in team composition

Diverse the Hub is, and the numbers prove it. 62 percent women, 16 different nationalities, including several top talents from Singapore and Telenor markets such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Given their diverse background, they are well-equipped to understand the realities of the region.

“We want to be on the ground. Be an extra pair of hands, to challenge and support. Be a part of the business unit’s projects and activities, and then bring the best practices and tough lessons to all. This is our role as a Hub,” says Skuterud.

The Asia Hub has been fully operational since before summer. From the start of September, the incoming team members are finally able to make their way to this booming technological metropolis. Ready to start their new lives, despite a stint of quarantine standing between them and the Singapore experience. For a while longer, building new relationships and supporting their colleagues in the markets will have to be done remotely. With active leadership, close collaboration and a strong team spirit, Skuterud is confident that COVID-19 will not slow them down.

“I think all of us coming here are so energised to build something, be a part of something and to really make a difference for Telenor in Asia,” says Skuterud. “For me, this is an opportunity to learn and grow, to gain new perspectives and to be closer to business. I can promise you, on behalf of the Asia Hub team, that we will explore, create together to find the best solutions, and keep our promises to the market.”

“For me, this is an opportunity to learn and grow, to gain new perspectives.”


More women than men in the Asia Hub team.

Asia has always been a place of opportunity and growth for Telenor

It’s a region of rapid development, life-changing innovation and incredibly talented people. The Hub is Telenor’s way of saying, ‘we’re here to stay because we believe in Asia.’

“Our purpose has been clear from day one,” Skuterud asserts. “We are building the Asia Hub to strengthen Telenor’s presence. To be closer to the operations. To collaborate more and be better at driving a locally relevant agenda. We are partners to the business units. And together we can do so much…and we’re only at the beginning.”

Produced by Telenor

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