I had a chance to interview Isabelle Paradis, Founder and President of Hot Telecom, which is one of the most innovative and creative research and consulting companies, which has been providing International operators and carriers with specialised intelligence and advice for the past 18 years and an Ambassador for women entrepreneurs at Young Entrepreneurs Taskforce, an initiative within the United Nations Economic and Social Committee for Asia and the Pacific Sustainable Business Network and it was an insightful and inspirational conversation.
First, I’d like to ask you more about what HOT Telecom does and what is your vision for your organisation for the future of Telecom?
We’ve been in business for 18 years now and we specialise in a very specific niche in international Telecom. Our ethos is that we have four main objectives — we want to inform the industry, we want to disrupt it, we want to inspire people and finally, we want to entertain them. So we want to bring some positivity to the industry in general.
We do that with four main activities :
- We do strategic consulting with the senior-most level telecom operators around the world, to help them with their digital transformation if they want to expand their reach.
- We do market research to inform them about what is going on with their competitors and with the trends in the industry.
- We do lots of marketing, lots of cool dynamic marketing. This includes interviews, we write lots of market insights, we help customers market themselves better and be a bit more disruptive in the way they communicate their message to the industry.
- We help people think outside of the box and think differently about the industry. We inspire them and help people think differently about their work.
One of the ethos of HOT Telecom is ‘Have the guts to succeed’ what is your story of the initial challenges you faced with building HOT Telecom and how did you resolve those?
Well, being an entrepreneur is quite difficult and very challenging. So you have to be ready for a very exciting ride. Initially, obviously, no one knows you really. Therefore, one of the difficult parts is to get people to trust you and to believe in you. You have to be able to get people’s attention and then prove to them that you can deliver on your promises. So that’s one thing that is quite difficult when you start because no one necessarily knows you. You have to be very persistent and get people’s attention and get people to remember you as well. And then to prove that you know when you say that you can deliver, you can deliver. Obviously, you have to be able to deal with failure and never take no for an answer. And if you fail — I fail every day at something, but I just keep going, I just keep pushing, and that is not always easy, you will have successes and failures and ups and downs all the time. When you’re an entrepreneur, that’s part of the deal, you have to believe in yourself enough to motivate yourself. It is quite challenging, but it’s very exciting. And then once you’ve gone through the first few years, it gets easier. And then you can have different types of interactions where you build relationships in the longer term.
You have been in this industry for 22 years, what motivated you to pursue this industry and create HOT Telecom?
Well, when I started, it was one of the coolest industry to be in, it actually is as cool as it was. At that point, it was really the industry to be in when you were young, just after University, international telecom was even more exciting because there’s a lot of travelling, you meet lots of interesting people from around the world with lots of different cultures, backgrounds, a very diverse set of people that are usually quite dynamic and very hard-working.
I’m an engineer, and I have an MBA in finance and so I have both the technical and business aspect to my background. So it was a perfect fit for me because the telecom industry is all about the business around technology. I have always wanted to have my own business. I always thought, one day I will be my own boss, and I will have my own business. It was just a natural evolution of that. I started in the telecom industry, and I worked in different companies for five years, and then I became a consultant for different companies to help them build an international business, and then I never looked back.
What are your beliefs as an Ambassador for women entrepreneurs at Young Entrepreneurs Taskforce?
My primary belief is Action. One of the topics I try to push in the industry is diversity and inclusion. Being a woman in Telecom, it’s not always easy. A lot of people like to talk about it, but not necessarily do something about it. I believe in — stop talking and start acting. I like to get involved in what can I do to help others, especially to improve their careers. I also believe in supporting each other, connecting with others, partnering with others, and actually helping each other. I think if everyone did one thing like that every day, one action, helping someone every day, then we would all achieve great things while also having fun!
What would be the 3 things you would say to young entrepreneurs?
The first thing is to Believe in yourself. Especially as women, we often question our capabilities — are we good enough to do things? I’d say stop doing that, we are good enough! And we can do anything that we want if we wanted it enough and if we worked hard enough, so believe in yourself. It won’t be always easy, the first time you will try something or, for example, the first time I spoke on stage, I was quite nervous, and I was scared like anyone else. But you have to say, I don’t care if I fail, I’ll try again. It is really important to believe in yourself and to push yourself out of your comfort zone to do things. With that, you will see, you can achieve great things. You also realise you can do so much more than you initially thought. You may fail the first time, but the next time it will get easier, and then it will get even easier and one day you won’t even think about it. And then you will wonder, what is the next thing that I don’t think I can do, but I really want to do, and I’ll go and try it. There’ll be people around you to support you like me, people around you will help you if they see that you are dynamic and positive. So that’s the first thing Believe in Yourself.
The second thing is Be Yourself. A lot of women, especially in Telecom, think about what do they have to be like to be successful, but no, you should be who you are, and embrace that. Once I interviewed a woman CEO, and she said, the benefit of being a woman in telecom is that people will remember you — you’re the only woman on stage with five men, for example, they will remember you more than they will remember the men, so you have to turn that into a positive. Be yourself and embrace who you are, and you will realize that being different is actually a good thing.
And the third thing is Positivity. I believe a lot in positive energy. If you’re positive yourself, you will attract positivity within and people you will attract will be positive people that want to do good. And I do believe in that positive energy very much, so when I meet with my customer, if I see them smiling and happy after the meeting and everyone’s laughing in the room, I’m happy I’ve achieved something and maybe in the next meeting, there will be some business that will be concluded. I think for me, it is this positive energy that guides me and I think it is key to success and happiness.