Brian Gouldie, the outgoing MTN Uganda CEO, says he is not being replaced in Uganda because of non-performance. Reacting to The Independent’s lead story titled, ‘Why MTN boss is leaving’ (June 03-09), Gouldie defended his two-year tenure saying the company’s objectives of bringing him to Uganda have been achieved. Without disputing the veracity of the story, Gouldie said it “lacked context” as he was leaving because it is mission accomplished as far as he’s concerned
“There are some very specific reasons why I was chosen to come here because when you look at the current reality of the environment and you look at my experience, it comes to yes we need this kind of person to come and fix it,” he said in an interview.
“I didn’t arrive randomly I arrived by design. MTN is very clear that they needed someone to drive the strategy of MTN Uganda and therefore chose somebody with worth.”
“I had the specific experience, which was needed to manage MTNUganda,” he added. He said when he arrived in June 2014, MTNwas in “disarray and its market leadership was being eroded.”
In a veiled reference to conflicts between the company’s interests and those of individuals, he suggested that these could have made him unpopular but he had no regrets.
“My job has been a transformational role and I am not here to win a popularity contest. I am here to define the leadership of MTN and its interest,” he said.
Outgoing MTN boss speaks out on legacy after being recalled to South Africa
On SIM card registration, which led to the loss of 3.7 million subscribers, Gouldie said there was a deadline, which his team failed to beat but he has to take the blame for it because he is the boss. “Unfortunately, the people who should have done something didn’t do something and so now you are left holding the bun yourself,” he stated.
However, he said following the disconnection, they immediately started implementing a digital registration and document management system, which has seen 1.7 million customers reconnected within four and a half months.
He added that he found the company in the midst of a massive mobile money fraud, which had damaged the impact and reputation of the brand. Also, the mobile money platform that was in place then went down in Dec 2012 and had a massive customer impact.
He boasted that he got it all fixed within his first three months with the subsequent launch of a new platform. “On Sept.23, 2014, a new system was implemented and that was probably one of the most defining projects that I owned as a CEO in terms of the transformation of our organization,” he said, adding that with eight million mobile money customers registered half of which were active, “it was the most high risk project that MTN had implemented in very many years.”
On the complaints about a poor relationship between MTN and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) – the regulator of the industry – Gouldie said he came in at a time when the situation was worse especially because of complaints about unsolicited messages.
He said he took the unpopular decision to reset all content management and subscription providers’ subscriptions to zero to the effect that the complaints are now minimal. “I was sent here with a very clear mandate, MTN must be complaint, we operate in a regulated environment, and we are required to be complaint because when UCC directs you, you comply.”
Gouldie, who is returning to the headquarters in South Africa where he will be given his next assignment, said he has been “instrumental in redefining MTN Uganda to create a lasting legacy for her.”
Gouldie, who described MTN as the “customer champion,” said MTN is the only telcom in Uganda that presents its results though it is not a requirement under the laws of Uganda. Gouldie’s successor is expected in the country in the next few weeks.