Interview with Justin Oberman – Opportunities and redundancies in the converged world of telecoms and mobility ..


Justin Oberman is a well known blogger in the mobile/wireless space through his blog mopocket and also a good friend.

Justin is now directing the Mobile/Telecom desk for Precision Research Group, a boutique executive search firm that has been finding the “unfindable” for talent hungry companies since 1996. Justin’s expertise lies at the intersection where mobile and telecom connect with entertainment/media, finance, marketing and advertising. With this background,Justin offers a refreshingly therapeutic approach to the sector’s workforce needs.

I had the chance to speak with him during my travels and here are some clips from our conversation:

My overall comments: I have tried my best to capture our conversation in an interview format – but the overall issue I was discussing is as follows: When I see so many traditional telecoms people in the infrastructure side – I wonder how(and if!) they will make the transition from the world of Telecoms as it stands today to the emerging world of mobility – driven more by converged companies like Apple and Google. I believe many Telecoms personnel will not be able to make that transition sadly. We saw many redundancies on the infrastructure side in Telcoms in the eighties and early nineties. I see the same happening again. There are two caveats to this – firstly some people from Telecoms will be able to make the transition – and we are already seeing some of this happening – but they are few and far between. Secondly, Telecoms will need new blood to enhance the existing genepool and will need to attract people who currently are not in ‘telecoms’ but are needed there. These people will have cross functional experience especially in light of the new world which we are increasingly finding ourselves in Telecoms and mobility.

Me: What are the best ways you think companies in the New Media and Wireless space can optimize their investment in human capital.

Justin: Well, Hiring talent in the mobile/telecom space is a tricky endeavour. Sure, there are various sources you can use to identify potential candidates – ranging from employee referrals and in-house candidates, to recruiting ads and search firms. Throw in online job postings, social networks and information aggregators, and the result is usually an avalanche of names.

Me: Plus add to that the fragmented nature of the industry.

Justin: Exactly! You see, the wireless industry is still developing and feeds off a mishmash of other disciplines (i.e. entertainment, marketing, finance) that give it functionality and potential. And what typically breaks down in the hiring process is that companies look for skills that are so hard to define that they almost don’t exist.

Me: So what should companies in the new media and wireless industries be looking for?

Justin: What is needed in our industry are professionals who have experiences in diverse disciplines and the potential to leverage what they know and transition that into something new.

Me: So, what are companies doing wrong now?

Justin: Well, you see, taking the conventional, linear approach to recruiting, by attempting

to match job requirements and skills, will yield underwhelming results. Rather, hiring managers must re-orient their thinking and approach the evaluation talent from a different angle. Instead of focusing on skills, hiring managers should focus on personal


Me: Why?

Justin: Because attributes more accurately reflect how people do their work and what drives them to achieve results.

Me: Can you give me an example?

Justin: Sure, for example, an attribute that is important for many roles in the wireless industry is courage. What is courage? It is an eagerness to participate. In other words, someone who is brave enough to step into the outer boundaries of the fragmented, new media industry.

Me: How can a company or the person doing the hiring determine if a person was the courage to work in the new media or wireless space?

Justin: That a very good question and it’s something that we work with hiring managers to help them figure out. So a few questions to ask candidates to determine their level of courage are

1. How have you reached beyond your comfort zone?

2. What are some situations in which you had to explore the unknown?

3. When have you demonstrated a fearless commitment to achieve

an objective?

4. Have you risked failure in the quest for novel solutions?

By penetrating into a candidate’s inner professional psyche, you can paint a picture in your mind about his/her ability to not only deliver value to your enterprise, but also fit into your organizational culture.

If you want to discuss more, Justin can be contacted at 212-230-1991 or email [email protected]