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#0419: Modernizing Telenor and society–technology as engine

Gjest: Ruza Sabanovic

Group CTO

Telenor Group

Med Vert Silvija Seres

Technology is globalising now and in this episode of #LØRN Silvija talks to Group CTO at Telenor Group, Ruza Sabanovic, about how technology is changing the way we work and why culture begins with the customers. From a civil engineer's perspective, he believes that they are both the drivers and enablers of Telenor’s modernization journey. On 12 October 2015, Ruza was appointed Chief Technology Officer for Telenor Group. She described this job at the time as a great honor, but at the same time, she recognized the great weight of responsibility which rested on her shoulders. Subsequently, on 2 March 2016, Ruza was appointed Telenor Group’s EVP and Chief Technology Officer of Telenor Group.

Who are you and how did you become interested in technology?
I am Montenegrin and have lived, worked and studied in countries all over the world. I’m a civil engineer and teacher and have been living in Norway for seven years now. I have always aspired to build bridges – connect people physically and now through wireless communication to wherever they are. Most importantly, I am the proud aunt of my sister’s two kids, Vanja and Anika.

What is your role at work?
Collaboration, setting the direction, engaging with people, and being hands on in the key initiatives. I need to be encouraging and motivating, get the right capabilities in place and remove obstacles.

What are the most important concepts in your technology/sub-branch?
We believe that we are both the driver and enabler of Telenor’s modernization journey. We work with partners to drive innovation and efficiency through joint projects, procurement and incorporating security in everything we do (security by design). Developing and implementing new operating models that foster global collaboration and accountability is key.

What do you think are the most interesting controversies?
Controversies are commonly related to ‘how fast’, ‘how relevant’, ‘how much’ and ‘how we do it’. How much effort should we plan for and how fast should we change? 

What is your own favourite example of this technology?
We are currently modernizing our systems and deploying security by design and procurement. We own two strategic programmes – 5G readiness and technology enablers for digital technology – and we are contributing to others.

Can you name any other good examples, nationally or internationally?
We are also preparing for 5G, introducing cloud, staying true to our API first policy and providing partner interfaces and collaboration. Guided by our customers, we are changing the way people work and the culture they work in.

What do you think is the most relevant knowledge for the future?
For any engineer, it’s important to put the solution into a business context and to explain how it solves customers’ problems. We have to understand and drive value for our customers. 

Is there anything unique about what we do in this field here in Norway? 
Exploring is in the Norwegian DNA – a unique Viking trait. Norway has a long history of exploring, constantly challenging the status quo, asking “Why is it like this?”, and then testing the options and finding the solution.

What do you think is the most important takeaway from our conversation?
Follow the principles of life, keep exploring and learning, believe in dreams and yourself, and never give up. Dare to challenge and take risks. In difficult times, stay the course. Own the dream and work hard!

Dette LØRNER du:

Globalization Digitalization Private and public sector collaboration The power of understanding
Everything starts and ends with technology. And the good thing is it never stops. It continues, and when you take actions, you immediately get feedback from that action, good or bad. This direct feedback leaves you always striving for more.

Ruza Sabanovic

Anbefalt litteratur
‘’Who moved my cheese’’  

Dette er Telenor Group

Telenor Asa is a Norwegian majority state-owned multinational telecommunications company and is one of the world's largest mobile telecommunications companies with operations worldwide, but focused in Scandinavia and Asia. It has extensive broadband and TV distribution operations in four Nordic countries, and a 10-year-old research and business line for Machine-to-Machine technology. Telenor owns networks in 9 countries and is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and had a market capitalization in November 2015 of kr 225 billion, making it the third largest company listed on the OSE.


Why is it important for large, global companies like Telenor to elicit global agreements across borders when each country is unique in its requirements and use of telecommunications networks?