Chief Strategy Officer Rima Qureshi on innovation, disruption

In a wide-ranging podcast focused on the conceptual approach to corporate strategy and role of women in technology, Verizon Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Rima Qureshi laid out her approach to working with internal stakeholders to best position the carrier for current and future market leadership.

Qureshi is the former president and CEO of Ericsson in North America. She left that position last year to take on her current role with Verizon, which started on Nov. 6; she reports directly to company Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam.

When she was interviewing for the position, Qureshi said she identified Verizon’s strength and weakness as it’s “financial position. People understand the challenges and the importance of change. I want things to be good but I want people to have that sense of urgency. The best time to change is when things are good. The hardest time to innovate and the hardest time to disrupt is when things are good. And it’s not necessarily because people are complacent. You don’t want to destroy a good business.”

She noted that just because something works now, it might not always. The best time to shift is when you have the money to do so. “It is a process. There isn’t one right way of doing it and you’re never done. I think that’s the interesting thing about working with strategy–you are never done.”

Qureshi said in early March the company went through it’s annual strategic planning process with the board of directors. As her team was prepping for the meeting, “I mentioned in some review, ‘You know, we are never done with strategy,’ and there was a collective groan. Strategy is everybody’s job. It’s not my job. My job is to be the chief orchestrator. Strategy isn’t done in my office or in a conference room with a couple of people. And the solutions aren’t easy.”

She mentioned the importance of attending trade shows like CES and Mobile World Congress to get a better understanding of the competitive landscape. Of MWC, “There is definitely much more focus on 5G than there has been in previous years. I guess the ah’ha moment is we’re not just talking about 5G, but there are a lot of interesting use cases.”

Qureshi continued: “You see the stuff that you would of course expect. I tried on the AR and VR headset. It was extremely immersive. That was fascinating. What was equally fascinating were all of the enterprise or industrial applications of 5G and how 5G would allow you to get rid of so many technologies and so many barriers or things that hold you back. It’s not necessarily the most, the coolest consumer application of 5G, it’s really the ah-ha moments of some of the industrial use cases and how interesting those will be in terms of what we think about the future and how we think about the strategy of the company.”




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