Sameer Sinha, chief sales and marketing officer, Indus Towers, is excited about the growth prospects of the telecom sector. He expects to see revenue growth amid accelerated data network roll-outs by telecom companies, following the strengthening of their 3G and 4G spectrum holdings.
Telecom operators, he believes, will invest in data network expansion, leading to growth in the tower industry, and that is good news for his company, a leading telecom tower firm in the country. The company will either set up more towers or add tenancies. Its current tenancy ratio is 2.19, up from 1.6 when Sinha took over.
Clearly pleased with the direction the industry is headed, he says, “Making seamless telecom services, both voice and data, available to all sections of the Indian population is the challenge ahead of us. Being able to make a difference by providing connectivity to millions of Indians gives me a sense of personal satisfaction.”
He is particularly upbeat about the data and internet service segments and says that the sector is set to witness another revolutionary phase. The way cellular telephony – voice with mobility – has positively impacted lifestyles in the past 15-20 years, in a similar way, data will transform lives over the next 5-10 years. The mobile phone will become a ubiquitous personal device that people will use for much more than voice calls and internet access.
Sinha knows a trend when he sees one, having spent 22 years in the IT and telecom industry. He has mostly worked in the areas of business development, sales and account management. Building successful businesses, he says, has been a key ingredient in his success and career growth.
Being from a middle-class service-oriented family, he had a modest upbringing. His father was a government servant and Sinha was number three of four siblings. He went to a boys-only public school in Jaipur, which was known for its academics and discipline. He was an excellent student and qualified for a National Talent Search scholarship from NCERT in high school. He more than justified the scholarship, topping the school and making it to the merit list in mathematics with 100 per cent score in Class XII.
“Discipline and excellence – attributes that I imbibed during my early years – have been the cornerstones of my academic, and now professional, life,” he says.
After school, he studied electronics and telecommunications engineering at the Malaviya Regional Engineering College, Jaipur. Later, he went on to do an MBA from the Podar Institute of Management, University of Rajasthan.
“I wanted to join the armed forces when I was young, but could not do so due to certain reasons. I focused on, and excelled in, academics and became an engineer, and my tryst with technology started,” he recounts.
Sinha started his career as a management trainee in sales with the HCL Group. His first assignment at HCL was significant because it introduced him to hard-core sales – prospecting, cold-calling, relationship building, etc. “Those were my formative years and much of what I practise today is somehow an outcome of what I learnt then,” he says.
Sinha joined the mobile telephony industry in 1994 and was fortunate to be able to witness, and be a part of, all the important developments that were taking place, including the privatisation of telecom. “The whole ecosystem was new. From a scarce rationed connection with waitlists, telecom went on to become a mass service,” he says. “The mobile phone has seen a complete transformation since the time it was introduced. From being a telephone to a personal device with mobility (granting 24×7 access) and then becoming an efficiency enabler (when data capabilities were added) – it is, perhaps, the one device that has positively impacted the lives of people the most in the past two decades. I am fascinated by this impact on people’s lives, and feel pride and satisfaction in being a part of the teams that enabled this impact.”
“Making seamless telecom services, both voice and data, available to all sections of the Indian population is the challenge ahead of us. Being able to make a difference by providing connectivity to millions of Indians gives me a sense of personal satisfaction.”
Sinha joined Ericsson in 1997, and worked with the company for 12 years. During this time, he clinched several key deals that helped position the company as a market leader. He also undertook an assignment at Ericsson Global, at the company’s Swedish headquarters, where he handled the South Asia business.
In 2009, he joined Indus Towers as chief sales and marketing officer. The company’s appeal for him was that it had a very wide footprint with 120,000 towers. Its other strength, which played an important role in his decision to join the company, was its close relationship with its customers.
When he joined Indus, the tower sharing model had just been introduced in the Indian market and Sinha took up the role to establish a new paradigm in the industry and “make a difference”.
The model has since seen significant success and has not only contributed to capital efficiencies (estimated savings of $3 billion) but resulted in better services and the lowest telecom tariffs in the world.
Sinha is responsible for the top line of the company. He also focuses on business development of new products as well as new business areas. He is, moreover, responsible for marketing communication, brand management and collections, as well as customer relationship management.
Sinha believes that a robust telecommunications infrastructure is a precursor to a country’s sustained socio-economic growth, with benefits permeating across sectors, citizens and geographies. As India’s leading telecom infrastructure company, Indus Towers has a responsibility to service the community it works in, he says. The company’s efforts are aligned with the directions set by the government, be it the allocation of spectrum resources for residential and enterprise needs, or recommendations on improving telecom services in under-developed or developing regions.
“The mobile phone has seen a complete transformation. From being a telephone to a personal device with mobility and then becoming an efficiency enabler – it is the one device that has positively impacted the lives of people the most in the past two decades.”
“As a leader, I see myself as a person who should guide the team and remove or address any obstacle that it faces. My style of management is dependent on the situation at hand, as well as on what my team members require from me. My style is mostly collaborative and my endeavour is to motivate team members to express themselves and contribute in any manner,” he says.
A typical workday includes a review of key performance indicators, an assessment of business growth prospects, lunch with the leadership team, and customer meetings. He tries not to work very late on a regular basis, and makes it a point to be home for dinner with the family and not travel on weekends.
Ask successful executives who their inspiration is and they usually give the name of a great business leader or visionary. Ask Sinha and he says, “Technology is my inspiration.” He is fascinated by how technology can transform lives. Making use of technology to address common issues and thereby positively impact people’s lives is something that excites and motivates him.
Seeing how mobiles connect human beings and allow them to retain the bonds of family and friends gives him pleasure. “When I see my parents using a mobile phone and social media to connect with family members, children and grandchildren who stay in different corners of the universe, and realise how their lives have been enriched by this technology, I am hugely inspired,” he says.
In his spare time, Sinha likes to travel, play golf, listen to music and spend time with family.