Q&A with Damien McCann, Viatel – “Customers are the Heart of our Business”Last Updated: June 1, 2019
“Have no fear. Try it. Enjoy it!” Damien McCann, Sales & Marketing Director of Irish data connectivity provider Viatel, reflects on his first decade at a firm that’s renowned for its innovative solutions & world-class customer service.
Viatel is the leading Irish-owned data connectivity provider in Ireland today, with more than 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, and speaking to the company’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Damien McCann, it is clear to see why the firm has excelled in this space.
Part of the Digiweb Group, the largest Irish-owned provider of advanced voice, data connectivity, data centre and managed WAN solutions, Viatel provides cost-effective, innovative, bespoke telecoms solutions for SMEs, corporate, public sector and wholesale customers throughout Ireland. The company always attempts to look beyond the horizon for the latest innovations and opportunities, while never losing sight of the the needs of their customers.
This approach was never more evident than the latest chapter in Viatel’s history. In 2015 the company jettisoned its European infrastructure interests to relaunch with a fresh focus on delivering world-class enterprise services in Ireland.
“Have no fear. Try it. Enjoy it!”
Viatel’s Director of Sales & Marketing, County Louth native Damien McCann, succinctly sums up this approach when he says: “Customers are the heart of our business.”
“We are 100 percent focused on business operations,” Damien explains. “We don’t deal with residential or mobile or TV or anything like that. That enables us to provide the best class of service, with 24/7 support, and to go the extra mile for our customers.”
McCann is a walking advertisement for the virtues of maintaining a laser-intense focus on the needs of customers, while staying ahead of the curve to seek out developments and innovations in telecommunications that will be of most benefit to the company’s Irish enterprise market.
From the point of view of customers, McCann’s Twitter bio perhaps says it best of all: “Taking the pain out of Ireland, UK, European and Global connectivity, Data centre and Voice solutions.”
11 Questions for Damien McCann, Director, Sales & Marketing, Viatel
Damien spoke to AGENT about Viatel, the company’s culture, the challenges of working in an industry that is ever evolving, his own history with Viatel and what has given him most satisfaction in the business, as well as the advice that he would pass along if he were to encounter his younger self starting out in business today.
1. Tell us about Viatel.
Viatel is an Irish-owned telecoms company, providing telecoms services to the corporate, Government and wholesale spaces in Ireland. What sets us apart is that we are 100 percent focused on business operations. We don’t deal with residential or mobile or TV or anything like that. We provide the best class of service, with 24/7 support, and go the extra mile for our customers. Customers are the heart of our business. In late 2015, we sold off our European infrastructure business, and that changed our business strategy. We were very much at a crossroads in the business, and were able to relaunch in 2016 with an improved focus on delivering world-class enterprise services to the Irish market. It’s been a huge milestone for the company
2. How did you come to be sales & marketing director for Viatel?
I’ve been with Viatel since 2006. I did a degree in Business Studies, and then spent a couple of years in Dell. I was fortunate to be able to get on board with Viatel when the operation was starting up. I started in a telesales position, and over the years, worked my way up to being a team leader, then into business development and team management, and up to marketing and sales director for the company in Ireland.
It’s been quite a rapid progression during that period. I was in a new position every couple of years, but the company was changing too. So, while I have been in the same company for more than 10 years, the company has been changing rapidly as well. We’re constantly evolving, constantly creating and growing new products. But I guess the whole thing really stemmed from my taking that degree in business.
3. What has given you most satisfaction in business?
Well, from the perspective of working in Viatel, I think it’s probably the influence that it is possible to have within the company. No matter where I’ve worked in Viatel, it has always been the kind of company that allows people to flourish when they have ideas; the kind of place where a person might have an idea one week, and it could actually be implemented the following week. You don’t get that with larger multinationals.
It’s a progressive environment too. As I mentioned, we’re constantly developing and innovating our product prospectus. All of those things have given me great satisfaction since I joined.
4. Who are your business icons or inspirations?
There’s quite a few entrepreneurs who have made an impact at national level. I’m thinking of people like Dan and Linda Kiely—they’ve done a fantastic job with Voxpro. Liam Griffin, too, with the Griffin Hotel Group, another fantastic entrepreneur. I also admire John Boyle for the growth of the BoyleSports empire. People like that are constantly evolving, growing, innovating, and we should be really proud of them. Ireland has produced some of the best entrepreneurs in the world: I’m thinking here of someone like Dr Pearse Lyons at Altech—another fantastically inspiring entrepreneur.
5. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
I guess the greatest challenge has been the need to always evolve and keep up with the pace of growth, which in this industry has been astounding. Things change so quickly that you have to constantly re-educate yourself and learn more about products and services, so that we can reflect outwards, on the customer-facing side of things. That has been, and continues to be, one of the greatest challenges.
6. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
Well [laughs]… I think it can be achieved, but it is difficult. Annual leave and weekends are important, especially when, like me, you have two young kids. However, I am dedicated to the cause here, so during the week it is pretty much all hands-on Viatel, and it’s a case of work, then go home and put the kids to bed, and then get back into Viatel mode! It is difficult, but it is not impossible. It can be achieved.
7. What is the first thing you do every day?
I check emails, on the phone when I wake up.
8. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
My two kids, wearing their Dundalk jerseys.
9. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
Probably Whatsapp, for keeping in touch with family.
10. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
My mobile phone, my laptop… and a good, strong cup of tea!
11. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?
Have no fear. Try it. Enjoy it!