Making O2 5G a reality – Rob Searle
Behind O2’s 5G rollout is a dedicated and diverse team of people, working hard to bring about 5G’s benefits to our customers.
Meet Rob Searle – Head of 5G Delivery at O2
What do you do at O2? What part of the 5G delivery are you involved in?
I head up the 5G programme. I was working on another interesting project when I was asked to help shape and deliver our 5G services last year. The opportunity to create something so important from scratch excited me, and whilst bringing the programme together has been challenging it has also been hugely rewarding.
How did you end up doing what you do, and why O2?
I joined O2 as a business analyst back in 1999, in the days when the company was still called BT Cellnet. I have had a number of analysis, design, architecture, business and operational roles in the 20 years that I’ve been fortunate enough to work at O2. It seems as though opportunities just keep coming. It keeps life interesting and I can’t recall a dull moment; there has always been something challenging and genuinely new to do.
What do you see as the biggest impact that 5G will have?
5G will take connectivity into a whole new generation, moving us from the connected devices that we have today to a world where most things are interconnected. Everyone is talking about the speeds that 5G will deliver, but this is about so much more than speed. I don’t think any of us can be certain about how the technology will evolve, but few doubt that it has the potential to change the way we live and work forever. We just need to take advantage of the opportunity that the technology presents.
What gets you energised in the morning for the day ahead?
I’m definitely a morning person so it doesn’t take much to get me out of bed. I love problem solving, and I always feel energised tackling tricky problems, whether at home or at work. It isn’t always easy to define the problem you need to solve, and sometimes it feels as though there are just too many problems that need solving, but that’s what makes it fun.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
How long have you got? I have dozens of peeves, ranging from entirely puerile to really important. I’m fairly intolerant of inaction or inactivity, because I believe that doing something not quite perfect is always better than doing nothing. I get that people are sometimes hesitant or risk averse, but I think that O2’s company culture to put the customer at the heart of all of your considerations acts as a compass that helps me to drive forward with a degree of confidence in my decisions.
What’s been your proudest achievement so far in your career?
After nearly 20 years, there are a number of things that I’ve been proud of, although two stand out in particular.
The first was when we switched our entire customer service voice platform from one supplier to another without losing a single call – so many people told me that it couldn’t be done!
The other was completing our Smart Metering Implementation Programme (SMIP) bid, and submitting it just in time for the deadline – it was all about being part of an amazing team and getting the job done.
What’s the one small thing in life that always makes you smile?
I’m always smiling pretty much no matter what. Whenever my daughters are feeling glum I tell them that there is only one person in charge of their emotions, and that it feels so much better if you approach something positively. It’s an attitude that has served me well throughout my life.
How do you see your role evolving in the future?
That’s a really difficult question. The roles I have played at O2 have been extremely varied up until now and I don’t see that changing. I have no hard and fast plan but whatever I do, it will have to be interesting, different and new.
How do you switch off and wind down?
I go for a run or get out on my bike, which is a new thing for me. But I can wind down fairly easily with tea and a chat, cooking for the family, or a beer with friends.
How long would you survive a full digital detox for?
I’d be better than some, but I wouldn’t be great. I’d miss my WhatsApp group with my mates who are all over the place – a constant source of comfort, counsel, outrageous opinion, humour, invention and planning; I’m extremely comforted by the end to end encryption that comes with it!
What are you most excited about that the future will bring?
I’m not a hardcore tech head so I watch with genuine interest rather than full on excitement. What keeps me motivated is whatever comes next: there are just so many books I’ve yet to read, ideas to explore, holidays to go on, people to meet, jokes to hear, drinks to pour, daughters to see graduate, marry or grow. The future is full of things I’m looking forward to experiencing and enjoying.
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