Maxis opts for another DiGi man as CEO
By Karamjit Singh July 17, 2013
- Lundal credited with DiGi’s transformation in 2004
- Maxis will be hoping for a repeat performance
EVEN if you were a betting man, it is doubtful that you would have put money down on Maxis Bhd opting for yet another former DiGi Telecommunications Bhd executive as its chief executive officer.
Proving that lightning can strike twice in the same company is what Maxis has done with its appointment of Morten Lundal (pic) as CEO and executive director from Oct 1 onwards.
Lundal, currently the group chief commercial officer of Vodafone Group Plc, led DiGi from June 2004 to April 2008.
He is taking the post after Maxis’ initial choice Johan Dennelind declined for personal reasons, instead taking on the CEO role TeliaSonera in Norway. Dennelind actually succeeded Lundal as DiGi CEO in April 2008.
Digital News Asia (DNA) has already written about the challenges that Dennelind would have faced as incoming CEO and they will be no different for Lundal, who is described by one former DiGi executive as “the man who made DiGi a great and fun company to work for.”
According to the former DiGi executive, until Lundal joined in 2004, DiGi was just another company. “You did your job, worked hard, got promoted and went home. But he gave us a sense of mission when he came on board.”
Indeed, search the Internet for references to Lundal and you will read about how DiGi’s transformation began with his tenure as CEO, not to mention its meteoric share price run.
Of greater relevance to lumbering, bureaucratic Maxis will be how he flattened the DiGi hierarchy and made it a nimble company that was able to respond and make decisions quickly.
“Maxis used to have a flat hierarchy too during my time, but lost its way,” says a former senior executive who was there till 2005 and thinks Maxis has made the right call with Lundal.
Yet another former Maxis senior executive describes Lundal as a very good leader, “especially known for his ability to change the culture of an organisation. Under his leadership, Maxis will be able to prosper.”
Under Lundal’s transformation of DiGi, job grades were flattened from 16 to around five, and everyone got the same perks including health benefits.
Bosses also lost their secretaries. How did the bosses deal with this? Those who could not, left the company. Lundal was fine with that as that meant they did not have the values that he wanted to inculcate in DiGi.
DiGi’s iconic D’House headquarters was also built during his time, in November 2006, with hot desks replacing fixed working spots for staff and ample avenue for employees to ‘chill out.’
The simple rationale was that staff would get to know each other and appreciate the roles that everyone plays to help DiGi compete in the marketplace and deliver value to its customers.
Lundal is also described as being well-liked and a team player. “He is also very strategic and can make tough decisions without getting emotional. He is always focused on the big picture,” says an ex-colleague from his DiGi days.
Interestingly, in his last email, Lundal thanked the staff and described his time at DiGi as “the best time in my life.”
He ended with, “Whatever is ahead, I will always be a DiGizen.”
He will have to put those feelings aside now for the green of Maxis.
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