Zikou jumps into the fire

Summary:I can't imagine it would be all sugar and cookies selling Ericsson's services to countries in Europe's south-east corner ... particularly for an Aussie.

I can't imagine it would be all sugar and cookies selling Ericsson's services to countries in Europe's south-east corner ... particularly for an Aussie.

With the Russian Federation to the extreme east and Serbia slap-bang in the middle, the region has at times had a reputation for instability.

Yet that is where Bill Zikou, the next managing director of Ericsson's Australia and New Zealand business, just spent the last five years of his life.

Bill Zikou

He probably saw a few tough moments with post Soviet-style bureaucracy as he oversaw the construction of a number of fixed and mobile communications networks.

One wonders whether captaining Ericsson's operations Down Under will be any easier.

Zikou will not only have to deal with problematic clients but also internal staff issues.

For starters there's the Telstra relationship. A lot of the telco's long-term plans are underpinned by Ericsson equipment and services and Zikou will want those plans to remain intact.

In case he forgets, there is the example of fellow vendor Alcatel to keep him sharp.

Substantial parts of Alcatel's AU$3.5 billion November deal with Telstra are at risk as the telco wrestles with the regulatory terms under which it would build its proposed national fibre network.

Another important client is Hutchison ... with a HSDPA upgrade of its mobile phone network scheduled for early 2007, the carrier will probably have a few teething problems that will need to be ironed out.

In the staffing area, great comms people are hard to find (and keep) at the moment and Zikou has two groups to keep satisfied -- Ericsson's own people as well as those that recently came on board with his company's purchase of parts of Marconi.

Finally there's the competition.

Chinese vendor Huawei's entrance into the Australian market must have given Zikou's predecessor Barry Borzillo some nervous moments over the last couple of years.

To begin with, there's the AU$150 million contract to supply Optus with hardware for its new broadband network.

I'm sure Ericsson would have liked to tuck that away ... but it was a nice little win for Huawei last year.

Other vendors are also known to be ramping up their local presence.

But it's not as if Zikou's jumping in cold ... he has formerly held the chief operations officer spot at Ericsson Australia and been in charge of the Vodafone account.

And he can always give Borzillo a call at his new employer Tenix Solutions.

Have you worked with Bill Zikou in the past? Send your anecdotes to renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au (I'll keep them anonymous) or just post them in the talkback below.

Topics: Telcos, Mobility

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