This Queen Bee’s a Hive of Information
Of course, there are plenty of women working at a high level in male-dominated industries around the world and, for sure, they have worked hard and smart to get to the top. So, what merits singling out this woman’s achievements, other than the fact that it’s Women’s month and that she is a leader within a leading ICT group in Africa? The answer is because Samantha Geyser is making waves, swimming sometimes against, but mostly with, the tide of male influence while applying a few of her feminine wiles to take the business to greater heights. She is a queen bee – not only because she has a pilot’s licence and can fly with the best of them – but because she’s just been appointed Chief Information Officer of the Paratus Group. Her knowledge and experience have always been valued by Paratus – probably the fastest growing telco in Africa currently – and now they need her to fly higher, and further, across the continent, in the group’s bid to transform Africa through exceptional digital infrastructure and excellent customer service.
Previously Samantha was the executive of customer service in Namibia as well as the Group Project Manager for Paratus; her new role will see Samantha honing those skills in a new and challenging way. As a woman who understands and embraces technology, she has been heading up the department which caretakes the business’s most valued attribute and key competitive differentiator – its customer service. “Every single person at Paratus is customer driven. It’s what drives us all in this business”, she says.
Samantha takes up her new role this month and has already begun working on her weighty and ambitious plans to standardise the group’s internal management systems. “While standardisation is pretty much impossible in Africa, such are the varied cultures, laws and logistics,” she explains, “I do believe that I can help expedite the Paratus Group’s rapid expansion by providing a template that can be adapted in each new country we enter. I will be looking at all processes and procedures and, wherever and whenever possible, provide ‘copy and paste options’ so that we don’t reinvent the wheel everywhere we go. If an automated system can work in one country, it should be adapted and deployed in another.”
Samantha Geyser is among a handful of women in the Paratus Group’s top tier of management. Previously, and with a team of around 60 players, she managed the group’s support centre, activations department and an impressive roll call of special projects, including the Google Equiano subsea cable landing in Namibia earlier this year. Her new position will see her continuing to handle special projects and working with the group’s country MDs and the Group Exco. “I’m excited about where Paratus is going and about working closely with an exceptional team that make things happen. Although we all have our roles to play, we are working towards one goal and those roles will overlap in many ways. I will be making sure our internal processes match and handle the applications and deals that we strike across the continent in future.”
Having been in the telecommunications industry for the past 20 years, Samantha is no stranger to working in a man’s world. Asked about how men in business often treat her, she has a resolute, yet understanding attitude. “Usually they are very surprised to see a lady in my position, but I must admit, my colleagues at Paratus all treat me as an equal and that is very valuable to me. I think to be successful as a woman in a man’s world, you must work smarter, but I count myself lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive network at Paratus and this will certainly help me navigate my way through the man’s world in Africa.”
Investing in infrastructure, building expert teams in seven southern African countries, and serving customers across the continent with a seamless quality network service have secured the Paratus Group’s success to date. The Group also has PoPs (points of presence) in the USA, UK and Europe and provides satellite connectivity in 37 African countries; it is the landing partner for the Google Equiano subsea cable in Namibia, and it has built four carrier-neutral data centers in three African countries. Samantha has been at the coalface throughout the group’s steady rise to telecom stardom. She is now eager to clear the path and remove the barriers to doing more great business in new territories.
“I think telecommunications is in my veins, connecting everything I do.” This is part way explained by the fact that, while Samantha was growing up in Johannesburg, she was often surrounded by cables because her uncle worked in a telco business. She loved it then and loves it, even more, today, along with her teenage son, cycling and running, her social life, and flying high. For a woman who’s stuck it out, successfully, in a man’s world for two decades, it is fitting that she’s now the Queen Bee giving Paratus the hive of information, and the edge, it needs to secure its continued success through excellent customer service.