A consulting client, expanding rapidly in the cloud, asked me for advice on how to understand the culture at phone companies. In the cloud/webscale world, mistakes happen often and are fixed quickly. That's usually impossible in telecom. Networks take years to build. A fast 5G rollout is 3-4 years. 5 years or more is common. You can't turnaround quickly.
Don't underestimate the tech people in telecom. Almost all very smart and capable. Few have fancy degrees, Almost all have worked their way to the top against a thousand others. Most are lifers and have spent many years at the same company. They believe outsiders don't understand the business. They are usually right.
Women are starting to reach high positions. Claudia Nemat has a good chance of becoming CEO at Deutsche Telekom. Nicki Palmer is leading the 5G effort. Huang Yuhong (pictured) leads research at China Mobile and represents the company internationally.
There's another reason they are cautious. For more than a decade, they've watched colleagues go in constant cutbacks. They know more layoffs are coming. because there is little growth.
They are scared.