Corporate Updates

Rajaram joins Airtel

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Hindustan Unilever vice-president N Rajaram has joined Airtel to head its mobile business' marketing unit as the industry experts believe in a large restructuring process after falling behind key rivals in number portability campaigns and marketing strategies. Airtel is trying to regain its lost ground to Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular in terms of revenues and customers and many changes are expected in the next two months. Strategising on various fronts to lure customers, the recent rollout by these two biggies of changing operators without changing the number has been one of the major reasons of bringing in the new marketing head. In the short term, he will have to bring more customers under the mobile number portability scheme. But his bigger challenge will be to convert existing customers to use high-end 3G services like ultra-fast internet, downloads, gaming, video-conferencing among others. Currently, Airtel gets only 13 per cent of its revenues through data services and the target is to increase it to 30 per cent. Rajaram replaces Shireesh Joshi, who will now handle Airtel's mobile advertising and internet presence, a new vertical created to cater to the growing data and online businesses, especially with the launch of the third generation (3G) services. Airtel trails Vodafone and Idea in poaching subscribers from other operators after the nationwide launch of mobile number portability (MNP) facility in late January. Vodafone has net gains of 1.93 lakh users under MNP in February, while Idea and Airtel added 1.51 lakh and 1.48 lakh subscribers, respectively. Rajaram's recruitment is in line with Bharti's strategy to poach talent from domestic and international markets for key positions. Over the last two to three years, the mobile phone company has brought in outside talent such as former T-Mobile's chief technology officer Joachim Horn to help expand its global footprint and interface with strategic partners, former Telstra International MD Kelton Drew to be its president for enterprise and its current CFO B Srikanth was previously with Unilever UK.

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