Director, Project Management Center of ExcellenceOrange Business ServicesTelecommunications
For enabling remote work while emphasizing the human factor
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, customers' needs changed abruptly. Orange Business Services had to make certain the networks and projects of its clients were up to the new requirements. That meant ensuring end-to-end data encryption and fast connectivity—even when employees were scattered far and wide, working in whatever areas of their homes they're commandeered as their new office space.
“We never planned for something of that scope. And of course, no one had the patience to wait," Mohamed Baly says. "We needed to get everything working very quickly."
Even before COVID, the center Baly leads was in the thick of the digital and automation action, with projects in cybersecurity, voice, cloud, multiservice integration and more. "Our customers, especially in the network and IT worlds, require complex tools: We're trying to manage that complexity on their behalf," he says.
While he might deal in data, he knows he still needs to make those human connections. "Building a rapport with our customers is number one: If you'e close to your customers, then you'll be able to understand their needs, their business drivers and their success factors. Each project is unique," Baly says. "As project managers, we can't have a one-size-fits-all approach."
A person’s office space often reveals much about how they get work done. So we asked: What’s on your desk?
“I’m working from home at the moment, and where I used to get my energy from meeting face-to-face with colleagues, now I get that energy from my children. I look into the eyes of my children in the photograph, and I always look forward to the future.”
“I have everything on my mobile: LinkedIn, my mail, instant messaging. I am responsible for 280 people, and there are always a lot of dynamics happening in my day—so this is my way of staying connected to everything in my professional life. If I can’t stay connected, it’s a problem.”
“I got this during a training day about listening and responding. One of the techniques we learned was, instead of jumping in with your opinions when you’re talking to someone, play with the stress ball. At the same time, write down any questions you have, rather than interrupting to ask them. I don’t use the stress ball so much now, but it’s a symbol of learning to wait and to be patient.”
Paper and Pen
“Even though everything is going toward digital, when you write something by hand, it’s just somehow more personal and different. I always like to have things written down that I can go back to.”
Cup of Tea
“I’m a tea person, not a coffee person. It reminds me of when I was very young and living with my parents and grandfather in France. My grandfather was quite naughty and gave me tea with milk, and I’ve liked it ever since. I have two to three cups during the working day, and I try to shut down and switch off for those two minutes while I’m drinking.”
“One of them is for my contribution to the revenue of Orange, which I received at the sales kickoff in Prague. That was the last time I traveled to the sales kickoff, before the pandemic. Another was for an integration project—it had a lot of complexity, but it made me believe strongly in the power of diversity and that teamwork can create miracles.”
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