Changing the face of the telecoms industry, what I have learnt in my first year as CEO

Published by Keri Gilder on May 24, 2021

Last week marked my anniversary of becoming CEO. I have to say it has been a journey that I never imagined against the backdrop of COVID-19. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, our company and our people. The past year has transformed how we work, live, and connect with colleagues, friends and loved ones. It’s been an incredibly challenging time and one that has brought us closer and showed us what we can do when we support one another.

As the one of the first telecoms companies to appoint a female global CEO, we’re doing a lot at Colt to change the face of telecoms. I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what I have learnt over the past 12 months and what I’m proud of here at Colt. These are my seven insights, or musings as I call them, from my past year as CEO:


Mental health and well being should be paramount for companies 

As a leader, I’ve found that being open, honest and upfront with employees about mental health has been critical over the past year. We’ve all faced zoom fatigue, ‘languishing’ (a new term I discovered recently) and just general stress at how our lives have been turned upside down.

We’ve taken steps to support our employees and leadership teams to cope with these feelings and prioritise their mental health. We have over 60 global mental health first aiders able to assist individuals in the local language. The Executive Leadership Team and I have also given awards across the entire company to show our appreciation for the resilience and commitment of Colties, company-wide days off (more on that soon) and set up assistance funds to help those who are struggling the most. Most recently, we’re supporting our India colleagues as they face the COVID-19 crisis taking place there. Ultimately, we’re all human and need to support each other, something I’ve always believed in and championed, even before becoming CEO.


You can’t go forward without the right partners

The right partner isn’t just crucial for us; it’s also critical for our partners and customers. We work in a large ecosystem of tech companies, Network Service Providers (NSPs), Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and System Integrators, all with the shared goal of delivering for our enterprise and wholesale customers. Cooperation, collaboration and co-creation within our partner ecosystem is fundamental to unlocking and amplifying our joint value and providing the best of our industry to end-customers. Launching the Partner Hub has been instrumental in driving this further, helping us expand our partnerships with the likes of EquinixPacketFabric and Oracle.


You have to honour your commitment to the customer

The customer has to sit at the heart of what you do as a business. We’ve made changes to our online portals, delivered critical upgrades at record times throughout COVID-19 and continued to achieve an industry-leading Network Promoter Score. I’m proud to see the recognition Colt has received as a result of our teams’ tireless work. We have been recognised with the Frost & Sullivan 2021 European Customer Value Leadership Award and won the ECCCSA Gold award for Best Innovation in Customer Service in Europe.


You can’t do this alone

Sometimes being a leader can be lonely, but it’s important to know you don’t bear that burden alone. Having a support system in and outside of work is essential. Making sure your employees have the right assistance is also vital. Whether that be through employee networks, proper management training or employee support services, a supported and included employee base is one that thrives. I’m happy that we have all of these in place at Colt to ensure everyone gets the support they need. In addition, I wanted to say a big thank you to my Executive Leadership Team for believing and supporting our business.


Strategy is key. Work towards your purpose

Within my first six months as CEO, we rolled out our three-year strategy and new organisational structure. With this new strategy and structure, we want to build strong network foundations, leverage our digital strengths, and foster a culture of innovation. All of these lean towards our purpose of transforming the way the world works through the power of connectivity. As a result, we’ve worked with IBM and ATOS to develop further and utilise emerging technologies and solutions, such as edge, remote working solutions and CCaaS. These will drive us forward in the current world of technology and connectivity.


Give back to your communities and the world 

At Colt, we care about the impact we have on our communities, our people, our customers and the environments in which we operate. As we couldn’t do our annual fundraising Colt Bike Ride last year, we set up a virtual Colt Charity Challenge. Our Colties, their friends, families and our communities collectively travelled the length of the Colt IQ Network, a whopping 100,000km. We raised over €150,000 to help a variety of children’s charities. We also raised €20,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), supporting the charity work they’ve been doing throughout COVID-19.

Sustainability is also a core ingredient of Colt’s DNA and our future business strategy. I’m proud that we obtained a Silver Ecovadis rating, putting us in the 91st percentile and within the top 10% of telco companies registered for ESG performance.


Everyone has to be included

Before joining Colt, I championed diversity and inclusion. My plan is to continue to help others that maybe have a more challenging way to the top because of a lack of diversity or a lack of inclusion. I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken to make sure our employees feel included and represented. Colt has set up the Disability Accessibility Network (DAN). We’ve also done some fantastic events across the past year with our other employee networks, YOUnited, Network 25, and Pride Matters.

This work has been shown in Colt joining the Valuable 500 to tackle disability inclusion in business, being recognised at number 44 in the Financial Times annual Diversity Leaders ranking and reflecting on our progress in our 2020 Pay Gap Report. I continue to be passionate about driving change across our industry. In my role as chair of the TM Forum’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, we are starting to make this happen. I was recently named #20 on the EMpower Ethnic Minority Top 50 Advocates List 2021. I am incredibly humbled by this. It always inspires me to see all the fantastic work being done across every industry to strive for equality in business.

I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved as a business within my first year as CEO. Looking to the future, we’ll continue to do more to innovate, drive ourselves forward and be the best for our Colties, our customers, partners, and communities. Connectivity has never been so important. In our digital world, connectivity matters now and always.

What's your goal today?

1. Are you on the Colt IQ network?

Our network connects over 31,000 buildings worldwide powering companies such as Hitachi, Atos, Forbes, Arthur D Little, Brussels Airlines and thousands of others. Find out if you're Colt connected now.

2. Learn about digital infrastructure

We've written thousands of guides and white papers, regularly publish content on our blog and host regular events on everything from enterprise network connectivity, to cloud, digital transformation and the hybrid workforce.

3. Join our team

To learn more about joining our team of over 5000 people around the world, and to browse our current open roles visit