Vir­tual vs real as bat­tle for tal­ented staff starts in earnest

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By SHEN JINGTING

Al­though the bat­tle be­tween tra­di­tional Sta­te­owned tele­com oper­a­tors and the new wave of vir­tual net­work oper­a­tors most of which are pri­vate com­pa­nies

is only just start­ing, the VNOs are al­ready poach­ing se­nior man­agers and ex­pe­ri­enced staff from the es­tab­lished play­ers.

The three State-owned tele­com car­ri­ers China Mo­bile Ltd, China Uni­com (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Tele­com Corp Ltd have been los­ing key ex­ec­u­tives to up­start com­peti­tors.

The “brain drain” ac­cel­er­ated af­ter the Chi­nese govern­ment is­sued li­censes for mo­bile VNOs start­ing in De­cem­ber.

Those li­censes let pri­vate do­mes­tic com­pa­nies of­fer repack­aged mo­bile ser­vices. Es­sen­tially, pri­vate cap­i­tal has now of­fi­cially en­tered the ba­sic tele­com ser­vices mar­ket to com­pete di­rectly with tra­di­tional tele­com gi­ants.

Al­though sev­eral se­nior of­fi­cials from the big three tele­com car­ri­ers jumped ship to VNOs, Chi­nese me­dia have fo­cused on Li Gang, China Uni­com’s vice-pres­i­dent. Li, who ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion on Feb 17, will leave China Uni­com and join a small, Bei­jing-based VNO im­me­di­ately.

China Daily wasn’t able to con­tact Li on Thurs­day.

But Wen Bao­qiu, spokesman of China Uni­com, said the com­pany has no in­for­ma­tion to dis­close at the mo­ment. An of­fi­cial at China Uni­com’s mar­ket­ing depart­ment, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, con­firmed that Li had re­signed. The of­fi­cial said Li is await­ing reg­u­la­tors’ ap­proval for his move.

“Ever since VNOs started gear­ing up to of­fer mo­bile ser­vices, they’ve seen talent plays a crit­i­cal role in win­ning the bat­tle for the fu­ture.

“Tele­com car­ri­ers hap­pen to em­ploy a lot of the ex­pe­ri­enced people VNOs need,” Xiang Li­gang, a Bei­jing­based tele­com ex­pert, said.

Be­fore Li’s de­par­ture, Zhou Youmeng, gen­eral man­ager of China Uni­com’s mar­ket­ing depart­ment, sur­prised in­dus­try watch­ers by leav­ing his post for the vice- pres­i­dency of Shen­zhen Ai­sidi Co Ltd, a na­tion­wide mo­bile phone dis­trib­u­tor that’s re­ceived a VNO li­cense.

He Ning, as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager of China Tele­com Ter­mi­nal Co, re­signed from his post and joined Funtalk China Hold­ings Ltd, an­other as­pir­ing VNO.

It’s a rare scene in China’s tele­com cir­cles for se­nior of­fi­cials of State-owned com­pa­nies to jump to a pri­vate en­ter­prise.

But VNOs usu­ally of­fer suf­fi­ciently gen­er­ous com­pen­sa­tion to change that, said Kong Xiaoming, an an­a­lyst at Hu­atai Se­cu­ri­ties Co Ltd.

“Se­nior man­agers in Sta­te­owned com­pa­nies could earn much more in the pri­vate sec­tor with their ex­pe­ri­ence and their man­age­ment and tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise,” said Kong.

Pri­vate com­pa­nies need all kinds of talent to get a start, from prod­uct de­sign to mar­ket­ing to cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, Kong added.

Wei Xiaokang, the part­ner of Bei­jing-based head­hunt­ing firm Of­fer­Come, has some ex­pla­na­tions for the flow of talent. Money tops the list.

The aver­age an­nual salary at the Bei­jing branch of China Mo­bile has stayed at 120,000 yuan ($19,725) to 130,000 yuan for the past decade, said Wei.

“This once-de­cent salary is no longer at­trac­tive at all, when they could se­cure at least a 30 per­cent in­crease from a pri­vate com­pany.”

When Li left China Uni­com, his salary likely dou­bled, while Zhou, who joined Shen­zhen-based Ai­sidi, is re­port­edly be­ing paid 3 mil­lion yuan a year.

Kang Zhibin, ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent of Soshare Net­work Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd, a Bei­jing­based VNO, said his com­pany will make the vir­tual net­work oper­a­tion a strate­gic busi­ness in the near fu­ture.

“We are at the prepara­tory stage and have signed up more than 50 staff. But that is far from enough, so each of our de­part­ments is still solic­it­ing talent,” Kang said.

Se­nior man­agers from do­mes­tic tele­com oper­a­tors will bring in net­work­ing re­sources, as well as years of ex­pe­ri­ence to the new VNOs, ac­cord­ing to Wei.

“All those con­tri­bu­tions will help VNOs grow fast, de­velop a clear busi­ness vi­sion and win larger mar­ket shares,” he said. Huang Yu­fan con­trib­uted to this story.

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