Five Minutes With…Khaled Kefel, Managing Director, Fastlink Application

Mobile and tablet seller Fastlink is looking to expand across MEA, says its MD, Khaled Kefel.

Can you outline Fastlink’s operations in the region?

Fastlink was founded in 2002 with the vision to be a leader in the mobile phone and tablet market in the Middle East and Africa. Over the past decade, we have been busy establishing our presence in the market, and we’ve successfully partnered directly and in-directly with major multinationals such as Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry, Apple, HTC and Huawei. Today, Fastlink’s serves a customer base across the GCC and MENA regions. Our portfolio includes mobile, tablet, and accessory distribution to wholesalers and key retailers, repair and warranty service and retail outlets.

Where is Fastlink focusing this year?

The mobile and tablet sector is a very fast paced industry and we need to continue evaluating our goals, to align with the changes in the industry. This year, our focus has been turned internally to create operational efficiencies across the organisation, while staying close to serving the needs of our channel and customers. Our offerings has been extended to work closely with wireless mobile operators in the region, finding synergies in our offerings to provide better service for end customers.

What trends are you noticing in the mobile phone market?

There are two main trends I believe are occurring in the mobile phone market. The first is well known with the increase in smartphones shares over feature phones, as technology advances and the gap between the features narrow. This will lead to more smartphones appearing in the price sensitive lower segments, and thus increase in market share of Chinese Vendors. The second trend is related to the consumerisation of IT, where enterprises now have to deal with their employees bringing their personal devices to work, and require connection to the company’s backend system. I believe companies such as Microsoft and Samsung will expand their services to include multi device management solutions to manage mobile handset assets for companies, and compete directly against MDM Vendors such as BlackBerry and AirWatch.

Which phone manufacturers are coming out on top?

Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totalled 455.6 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an increase of 5.7 per cent from the same period previous year, according to Gartner. Samsung increased its lead over Apple in the global smartphone market in Q3 2013. Globally, in Q3 2013, according to Gartner, Apple commanded the second position in market share.

What are your growth areas and do you have any expansion plans?

In a region that continues to showcase strong growth, Fastlink is working on several growth initiatives one of which is geographical expansion across the Middle East and Africa, and increased coverage in our current locations. For example, Fastlink recently established a new subsidiary in Tunis and Libya, to service the newly signed distributorship agreement with Huawei. Another initiative is the expansion of retail. We recently expanded our operations in Lebanon and opened nine new retail outlets, as well as widening our van distribution to increase coverage to the unorganised retail shops across the country. Lastly, Fastlink recently established a new venture to focus on working with wireless operators providing them with value added services.

Will you be hiring this year?

Fastlink is an equal opportunity employer. We are always looking for talented individuals to join our fast paced organisation.

What is your leadership style?

There are many leadership styles, and each one is effective in a certain set of circumstances. My preference is to lead by example. However, I’m flexible and agile to change my style depending on the situation I’m in, or the mandate I have.

What makes the perfect employee?

There’s no such thing as the perfect employee. But the closest to perfect would be a person with integrity that has passion for excellence, innovation, and customer centricity.

Define success in five words..

Content. Optimistic. Passionate. Belief. Action in all that I do.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

Remain passionate, stay humble, and lead by example.

In my spare time I like to..

Long Distance hiking in nature. It gives me peace of mind.