Telenor Pakistan today announced that its CEO, Jon Eddy Abdullah, is set to leave the company on March 1st.

Jon has been appointed CEO of the Telenor Group’s Thai mobile operator DTAC.

“I am very pleased with Jon’s achievements as CEO of Telenor Pakistan. Under his leadership the company has strengthened its position as a leading mobile operator, launched several innovative services like easypaisa, and taken a clear position on corporate responsibility”, said Sigve Brekke, Executive Vice President of Telenor Group, and head of Telenor’s Asian Operations.

“I am excited that the Telenor Group will continue to benefit from his vast telecommunication experience and his knowledge about Asia in another of our Asian markets”.

“Even though I am thrilled to take up new challenges, I have to admit that leaving Telenor Pakistan will not be easy. My period here has been very rewarding, and I will take many fond memories with me. In Telenor Pakistan I have had the privilege of working with a highly qualified and dedicated team that has continuously focused on developing services that benefit our customers. The company has experienced fantastic growth since it was established in 2005, and I believe it is well positioned for the future”, said Jon Eddy Abdullah

Telenor Group is a global provider of communication services with operations in 12 markets. In Asia the Telenor Group has more than 95 million customers, and operations in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand. Jon has been CEO of Telenor Pakistan since August 2008.

Jon will succeed Tore Johnsen who has been appointed new CEO of Grameenphone, the leading mobile operator in Bangladesh. Tore Johnsen previously served as CEO of Telenor Pakistan.

Telenor Pakistan has already started the process of finding a new Chief Executive Officer to succeed Jon.

Through our source, we got following email that Jon sent to Telenor employees today:

As I begin to write this note to you, I realize that today is one of the most emotional days of my life. I’m sure you have guessed where this is headed?

I will soon be leaving Telenor Pakistan and moving to Thailand as CEO of DTAC – another successful OpCo within the Telenor Group. This is not only an exciting professional challenge but also a personally blissful move as I am once again united with my family.  At the same time, I struggle to find the right words to describe the emotional hurricane stirring within me; saying good-bye to my TP family is much harder than I ever imagined.  I will start my new job on March 1; my successor will be announced in due course.

I have transitioned many times between jobs and countries, yet leaving TP feels like I’m leaving something behind.  I’ve never experienced the love, respect, and hospitality that you have so unconditionally given to your leader.  The last 2 ½ years have gone by in a flash, yet I can write book after book on some of the unique challenges and scores of achievements I was fortunate enough to share with you.

Let’s start with the Tameer Bank acquisition and the launch of Easypaisa. My friends, we are part of creating history.  Easypaisa is already on its way of changing lives, empowering people, taking the handset to the next level of utility and functionality, etc.  Thank you Lars for your initial support here and thank you Roar for taking it to the next level.

Through my periodic emails you would have been able to gauge the continuing success of this company; but once combined into a 30 month window, it’s nothing short of a corporate fairly tale.  We grew subscribers from 18 million to 25million, revenue from Rs. 50 billion to Rs.65 billion, EBITDA from 19% to 30%.  2010 become the first year we became operationally profitable.  None of this could have happened without your commitment.  We broke records, we won awards, we became centers of excellence, and became the No. 1 exporter of talent to the Telenor Group. What a record and you are the talent that made it possible.

General Thank you’s

I’d like to thank so many individuals and teams that I’m almost certain I will run out of space and may still make some embarrassing omissions.  But I’d still like to have a go at it in any case.

Firstly, the commercial division, thank you for letting me challenge you in the CMMs.  Together, we used all the experience we had to stay ahead of the competition, ensuring the customer comes first, and create excitement through our adverts.  We not only created “Karo Mumkin” as a slogan but as a way of life at TP.

To the technology division, you transitioned from a greenfield rollout machine to driving efficiency out of your organization, systems and network.  It was awesome to see it happen from my position.  We showed that IT and Technology conversion is not a futuristic idea but a reality.

To the finance division, you transformed TPs financial story from one of a questionable business case to the “best performing company in Telenor Group” – we grew from strength to strength every quarter – you applied the pressure and gave the support that expedited this process.

To the financial services division, well it goes without saying: you not only beat all local expectations, you were also recognized on the world stage (CNN) as the model of the future. This is a lifelong achievement that can never be taken from you.  Wow, Wow, Wow!

To the human capital division, we developed a close relationship in the last 6 months that taught me a lot.  Winning awards like “Best place to Work”, “Most preferred Employer” is just the beginning. If we stay true to “Care and Growth” and our core values, we are well set on our journey of From Good to Great.

To the strategy and corporate affairs division, you helped me put it all together.  You managed our external relationships, kept us out of trouble, and did an excellent job at supporting core businesses while thinking about the new ones. You continued to beat expectations and challenged the status quo.  Well done!

Happy Endings

Over the past 2 ½ years we have had a fairly consistent strategy centered on our culture, way of work, and most importantly, our greater Telenor family – our employees.  Our only sustainable competitive advantage is our unique organization and our culture – based on 4 simple values.  These values must be preserved and lived consistently.  Our extended management must continue to exhibit leadership behaviors; our people managers must continue to listen to employees and take sincere action on IVC results.

What a pleasure it was to be your coach, mentor and “Captain of the ship” as we steered a course through countless obstacles.  I may not remember each of the achievements but I will never forget how all of you came together as ONE Team, how we did many memorable things together.

Inshallah Telenor Pakistan will continue to be successful; of this I am very sure.  And though far away, I will be closely watching TP’s progress, with a sense of personal pride and the mistaken belief that maybe I had something to do with it.

Allah Hafiz