Journey to Golden Land Myanmar!
Blog from Telenor Myanmar CEO, Jon Omund Revhaug
This weekend, I finally arrived in Yangon. I’ve been working intensively with the Telenor Myanmar team already for four months in my role as CEO, and I am incredibly stoked and excited to finally be here physically. Within a couple of weeks, I hope to start meeting customers and our team across the country face to face and start exploring this beautiful country.
The pandemic puts significant restrictions on movement between countries, for good reason. My journey to Myanmar this time, though short in effective flight time from Singapore, was both time consuming and resource intensive. Before leaving Singapore, I had to stay in home quarantine for a week, and after two flights and 24-hour stopover in Kuala Lumpur, I’m now settling in for another couple of weeks in quarantine here in Yangon. I want to send a special thank you to all the staff who have been so accommodating and are taking such good care of me.
So how is travelling in these COVID-19 times? This was my journey:
It was a Friday morning, my last day of home quarantine in Singapore before departing for Myanmar. I took a swab test, which luckily came back negative — completing the broad set of documents and permits needed to board my flight. I have been very careful to follow the health and safety guidelines set by Singapore health officials and have essentially spent most of my time in the last months in my apartment in Singapore.
Changi airport has almost been my second home travelling between various Telenor business units across Asia over the past years. This was my first international flight since the outbreak, and it was clear from the outset how different it was: almost no people, everyone wearing face masks, reminders of social distancing and a strict control regimes at every check point. The first leg of the journey was to Malaysia, where I would spend 24 hours before boarding next flight.
On Sunday morning, we finally touched down at Yangon International Airport. Flying in over the delta, I was reflecting on my last visit to Myanmar, in 2013. Seven years on, I am excited to see and experience how much Myanmar must have changed. From working with the team I know how fast things have moved over the past years, but it is one thing to know the stats and another to see it with your own eyes. Happy to see my phone latch onto the Telenor Myanmar network as I turned my phone on.
Rather than exploring the city and the country, COVID-19 restrictions means that I will spend my first couple of weeks in quarantine, first in a facility organized by the government and later in my apartment.
Meanwhile, I will continue leading my team virtually just like I did in Singapore. We know that virtual leadership works, but it also requires a lot from team members, partners and leaders. Telenor globally has embraced the flexibility and opportunities offered by this new way of working, and while we will continue working more virtually in the future, it is important to also meet face to face. I’m encouraged by how well the Telenor Myanmar team has adapted, and that the connectivity we offer can play such a key role in helping people, businesses and societies prevail in a crisis situation like this pandemic.
Arriving in my quarantine facility, I was also touched by the care demonstrated by the Telenor Myanmar family, who had placed lovely welcome gifts, including a very handy Burmese phrase book, in my room. Kyayzutin ba de! Day 1 will mostly consist of catching up on sleep and preparing for another busy week at work for our customers.
Now, being literally just next door to the Telenor Myanmar family, I am even more excited for my new journey here and what we will be able to build, together.
Stay safe, and see you soon!
Jon Omund Revhaug is the CEO of Telenor Myanmar. He has been with Telenor for 20 years and was until recently CEO at Telenor’s global Procurement Company, based in Singapore. The 53-year-old Norwegian took the helm at Telenor Myanmar on 1 April 2020.