Introducing the BEC partners: Speaking with AT&T

Jakub Kovalský is the HR Country Manager at AT&T Global Network Services Czech Republic. He studied law and management and started his career in the area of recruitment. As a member of the AT&T HR team he helped to overcome the company’s rapid growth phase in the recent few years. If he has any free time available, he enjoys new technology gadgets, spending time with his family and reading.

JKHow would you describe the business AT&T does globally to someone without a clue?

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. That was the foundation of the company that would become AT&T, which is now one of the largest communications companies in the world.

Today, we’re connecting consumers and businesses across the globe. From voice, to data, to video, to the Internet of Things – we have provided, and expect to provide, the leading edge of communications.

What do your employees do specifically in Brno?

Since the service support centre in Brno was established in 2008, we have been primarily focused on networking connectivity for European customers.

Is it mostly customer services or do you also develop software in Brno?

We have a few small teams focusing on software development. They improve tools used by other AT&T teams and clients. The main focus in Brno is customer services by way of technical support.

If I worked for AT&T what would my day look like?

Your day could start at 9 am or 2 pm or even 10 pm, depending on whether you work in a shift or non-shift operation. You would come to the office and work with colleagues who would either be part of a locally present or globally dispersed team. So your team members could be in India, the UK or US.

You would start working with our customers. For example, if a device stops working in a corporation they submit a ticket to AT&T. One of our agents reviews it and decides whether it can be resolved in an automated way or other people need to be involved in the investigation. Is the problem caused by an out-dated software? Are there any software adjustments needed?

It is the task of the agent to establish the root cause and then work with colleagues to provide a solution.

How international is your workforce?

We have employees representing more than 40 nationalities, mainly from within the EU but also from India, Australia, the US and Latin America. We have about 10 to 15 new joiners from outside the Czech Republic on a monthly or bimonthly basis, in addition to our local hires.

Every nationality has its own place in our team; it helps deliver the most suitable solutions. We truly believe our clients benefit from the diversity of the workforce here in Brno.

What do you think attracts people to Brno?

Brno is an attractive location. Its assets are size, reasonable cost of living and rich social life. Then there is the Brno Expat Centre that helps workers to quickly feel at home and make connections. I haven’t heard any strong cons as to why not come to Brno.

Does employing people from other nations present any challenges?

One of the situations we face is that they are very mobile. The majority of employees who leave AT&T come from outside of the Czech Republic. But of course there also are foreigners who make friends here or even start a family and most probably won’t leave Brno.

The average age at AT&T is 32 years. Our employees are at the very beginning of their careers and of course get attracted by other opportunities. And if they don’t have a substantial connection to Brno they don’t mind working in Slovakia, Poland, Switzerland, Germany or the UK. This is something we admire when we are sourcing the talents but it is a risk we have to manage.

I have never worked in a multinational company like AT&T. How does everyone get along?

There are differences coming out of different mind sets, but most employees are roughly the same age and tend to have similar views on things. I think it is relatively easy for them to come together and work as a team. And out of the working hours be friends, too.

Brno is becoming very international. Still, is there anything your international employees miss here?

They still miss interaction in their language. Sometimes they miss their social life; in Brno restaurants and the café scene are rapidly improving, and I have heard many positives about the public transportation, and also about Czech people who try to help even when they don’t understand English.

What could the city municipality do to improve life in Brno for employees of multinational companies?

Whenever feasible, to favor the shortest timelines to issue an Employee card. This is a key contributor for ease of doing business.

The number of flights and destinations from Brno Airport is something that also could improve. It would make Brno more visible and attractive for foreign investors.

Some people say it would be sufficient to improve the connection to the Vienna Airport with more shuttle buses.

That makes sense. When coming to Brno, there are definitely more flights to Vienna than to Prague or Bratislava.

What skills are you looking for when hiring right now?

For technical positions we are interested in networking knowledge – how to troubleshoot a network, what is a router, what are the protocols enabling the whole network infrastructure?

For mobility knowledge, we focus on specific technologies like LTE that are supported from Brno to our US customers. In the internal IT support we focus on server and database knowledge and some internal communication platforms such as Skype for Business.

For the non-technical positions we need a superb knowledge of English, general IT literacy and excellent customer orientation.

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