Fifteen years since its commercial launch into the global market in 2001, Digicel Group has propelled itself in the telecommunications arena as a leading service provider with growing IT businesses in 31 markets across the Caribbean, Central America, and Oceania (Asia–Pacific) regions. Today, Digicel has more than 13 million users spanning diverse geographies and cultures.
Michael Murphy is the CEO of Digicel Asia Pacific, comprising the vibrant island nations of Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu. Michael, originally from County Limerick in Ireland, now moves between offices in these tropical isles from hilly PNG, with a population of more than six million, to the coral atolls of Nauru with 9,000 people. However, he is strategically based in the hub of the Pacific, Singapore.
“It was just coincidence that a previous mentor of mine whom I had worked for in the past got in touch about an opportunity in Fiji, working with Digicel,” Michael says. “That was in 2008, and I’d only just become engaged a few months before the call, but I knew of the company and its approach to changing the communications landscapes in previously underserved markets.” It was an approach that seemed appealing enough to Michael, so much so that a quick decision was not difficult to make. He said yes in June, married his fiancé in October, and arrived in Fiji two weeks later. “It was a big change for us at the time—from a wet, weary, dreary Ireland in winter to a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean—it was incredible.”
Digicel Fiji was launched the month Michael arrived, the same year the company established the Digicel PNG Foundation.
Based on operational strategies implemented since 2001 and replicated successfully in several other markets, Digicel’s mobile subscriber base has grown from 0.4 million as of 31 March 2002 to 13.6 million subscribers as of 31 March 2015.
Digicel CEOs, in accordance with company values, are resolutely committed to active marketplace engagements, as opposed to office desk undertakings. Michael spends a significant amount of time island-hopping, with countless trips to each of his six markets. “The regional head office is in Singapore,” he says, “but my role as CEO for the Pacific means that I spend most of my time travelling. I spend three weeks of every month in the marketplace; of that, about two weeks are in Papua New Guinea. We are a company that believes it has to experience its customers’ service and network connections, and understand their perception of the brand.”