Counsel for the Greenhorns

An opportunity to mentor a young mind recently presented itself. I remembered my early days in telco assurance – ah, when we were young and innocent.

I gave the young man this advice, which I think he can use not just in telecoms but also in any other job. He can thank me later.

  1. Don’t worry about the complexities of the technologies that we use. Nobody knows it all. That, in part, is the actual reason the need for your job arose. You have been hired not because of what you know but because your attitude shows that you would be willing to learn something along the way. In so doing, you will help the CSP learn something about itself.
  2. Credibility is your only weapon in this game. Guard it jealously; treat it like the precious, fragile thing it is.
  3. Be fair in your work, be accurate in your reports, never ambush people with findings, and always work with all to improve matters. However, do not be a sissy. Let folks know, in words and in deeds, that you are not afraid of raising and communicating your findings.
  4. Learn the business. Understand where our money comes from, why we make the decisions in the way we do. You cannot assure what you do not understand. Try to anticipate the future. For example, other markets like Europe and the US may already provide lessons of what we can expect. However, do not depend only on that approach. The Third World has also provided a number of firsts, so cast your eyes not just beyond but also right here at home.
  5. Don’t forget what you already know but do not make it your only weapon. A lot of it will become irrelevant soon. So read widely, ask questions to those who came before you, and use every opportunity to better yourself. Listen to all, ignore none, act on what matters.
  6. Treat vendors with professional respect, lend them your ears and a good amount of your time but do not worship them. If they cannot partner with you to improve your processes, nod a polite goodbye. We can always meet at the next conference.
  7. Your time is expensive. Never fear telling management that you do not have time to do something. After you have proven your worth, soon all manner of ad hoc management requests will come your way and, being only human, you will feel extremely important. Remember, in this space: those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make important. You are not Superman so take only what you can complete. If you cannot resist this, you will descend on a dangerous path, you will start 1000 things and finish 10 things and nobody will respect you anymore. Pick 10 things and do 10 things.
  8. Always take a second look. Be confident but freely second-guess yourself. It never hurts. Beware of areas and processes that look clean. Danger lurks below.
  9. If you are not having fun in this job, look for another one. It is hard enough to succeed and make an impact – you do not need to add a disengaged mind. Be kind to yourself. Walk away when you still can.
  10. Because I did not have 10 nuggets of wisdom, I added this one too: Do not eat eggs for breakfast. It is not right for an assurance professional to begin his day with murder – that just brings bad mojo.
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu is a consultant who specializes in revenue assurance. He is currently contracted as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management at Vodacom's operation in Tanzania, having previously served in the same role at Vodacom Mozambique.

Before his work with Vodacom, Joseph was an internal audit manager for Airtel, with responsibility that covered their 17 countries in Africa. Whilst at Airtel, Joseph led reviews of the Revenue Assurance, Customer Service and Sales & Marketing functions.

Prior to his stint at Airtel, Joseph was an RA manager at Safaricom in Kenya. He holds an MSc Degree in Information Systems.
  • Michael Lazarou

    Good advice, but for me 7 is key. Doing 10 things well rather than 100 at 70% is very important to also be able to adhere to 2: credibility.