Gayan Koralage: Forging Pathways To Digital Prosperity & Connectivity Evolution

Gayan Koralage: Forging Pathways To Digital Prosperity & Connectivity Evolution

Gayan Koralage, Director - Group Strategy

Gayan Koralage

Director - Group Strategy

A Strategy Officer plays a pivotal role within any organization, particularly in industries as dynamic and rapidly evolving as telecommunications. As Director of Group Strategy, Gayan Koralage spearheads the strategic direction of EDOTCO, a subsidiary of the Axiata Group. With over two decades of experience in the telecommunications sector, Koralage brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his role.

His journey in the telecommunications industry commenced at Axiata Group, where he undertook various responsibilities ranging from managing projects to leading mergers and acquisitions across multiple markets in the Asia region. His tenure at Axiata Group equipped him with comprehensive insights into business turnarounds, investment and divestment initiatives, post-merger integration strategies, strategic carve outs and business restructuring across diverse geographies.

As one of the founding members of EDOTCO Group, since its inception in 2013, Koralage was involved from conceptualizing the tower business carve out from the Axiata group in four seed markets including Malaysia and Bangladesh and charting the path to build Asia's largest tower company today across 9 markets, 35,000 towers and connecting over 200mn population to the internet. His responsibilities extend across the spectrum of strategic endeavors, including long-term planning, capital exercise, portfolio optimization, pricing strategies and providing thought leadership in the TowerCo industry. Furthermore, his oversight encompasses performance analysis and project management across the nine markets within EDOTCO's footprint.

In addition to his role, Koralage holds multiple responsibilities and portfolios within EDOTCO Group, serving as the Director of Malaysia Business and Country Managing Director for Sri Lanka. This multifaceted role underscores Koralage's versatility and leadership acumen, as he navigates the complexities of both strategic planning and operational management within the telecommunications landscape. Let’s read on.

As a leader, I firmly believe in the power of science-based decision making to mitigate uncertainty & increase the likelihood of success

What strategies or techniques do you utilize to examine or analyze shifts in market dynamics, alterations in market share, and fluctuations?

In the TowerCo market, we anchor our business on long-term business contracts with strong and steady cashflow by offering shared infrastructure to our clients. The deeper we share the infrastructure, cheaper the network cost becomes, lower the cost per GB for end consumer and more users can access the internet. EDOTCO has over 150 contracts with over 40 MNOs across our footprint, each with 10-15 years of tenure.

As a responsible TowerCo, our focus is creating value for our capital contributors through addressing changes in three main dimensions i.e. leveraging on network evolution (introduction of new tech e.g. 4G to 5G), dynamic pricing in challenging macro indicators (e.g. volatility in currency exchange and inflation) and capturing profitable market share in an ever-changing competitive landscape.

How do you pitch an effective corporate growth strategy and ensure capital plans align with organizational objectives? How do you build consensus on key issues post-strategy formation?

We are evolving from vendor relationship to a partnership model with our clients, where in the latter we work on a common goal in addressing their pain points. As we embark on this internal journey focusing on operator issues, our processes implication (e.g. procurement strategy, rollout plan and stakeholder management), faster response time, customer centric approach across all segments of EDOTCO will align accordingly.

EDOTCO have adapted an internal framework called Value Creation Cadence (VCC) where every capital we invested will go through a cycle ensuring the product is build and offered at higher than cost of capital, colocations are intensified with optimized cost, new adjacent services are introduced on top of existing revenue, hygiene factors are constantly measured, and continuous innovation are introduced to improve efficiency. The faster we spin this cadence, the more value we create for our capital contributors and spread that economic benefit for our customers and employees – and this cycle repeats.

By welcoming suggestions for improvement, the strategy becomes more robust, adaptable, and reflective of the collective wisdom of the group, thereby maximizing growth potential while maintaining alignment with organizational goals.

Can you share insights into your leadership style? What principles or strategies guide your approach as a leader?

As the market leader, we aim to differentiate ourselves from other telecommunications infrastructure companies and set a new template to the industry as and when it evolves to the next phase. As a leader, I firmly believe in the power of science-based decision making to mitigate uncertainty and increase the likelihood of success. I aspire to lead the pack, setting the pace, cadence, and direction for my team through clear guidance, acknowledge both triumphs and setbacks since it is very important for us to take ownership for every decision made, celebrate wins, and reward/recognize them handsomely.

Transparency is ingrained in me – By putting all cards on the table, we can effectively foster trust and collaboration among shareholders, customers, and employees. We should never settle for the lower common denominator because mediocrity has no place in our pursuit of excellence. I aim to inspire my team to reach new heights and drive sustained success by adhering to these principles.

What is it that motivates you?

My main motivation will always be providing value to our key stakeholders that matter most i.e. our clients, employees, shareholders, suppliers and landbank owners. In doing so we will conduct continuous repricing to deal with challenging macro, shifting our portfolio to the market with the highest return, expanding our products with a discipline rollout plan across our markets.

What destination do you anticipate for the future?

The future destination I eagerly anticipate for EDOTCO involves achieving a leadership role in sustainable innovation within the tech industry. We aspire to spearhead initiatives that blend cutting-edge technology with environmental consciousness, contributing positively to society while driving business growth. By harnessing advancements in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, and green infrastructure, we aim to lead teams in developing solutions that address global challenges such as climate change and resource depletion, shaping a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

Gayan Koralage, Director, EDOTCO

Gayan Koralage, Director of Group Strategy at EDOTCO, is a visionary leader in sustainable tech innovation. With a passion for blending cutting-edge technology with environmental consciousness, he spearheads initiatives driving business growth while addressing global challenges like climate change. His leadership fosters a brighter, more sustainable future for all. He is also nominated as one of Capacity Media's 2024 Power 100, alongside other industry champions shaping the digital landscape.

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