Kevin Piper – Emblaze Mobile

You might think that 26 years with BT and then O2 would have made Kevin Piper a tad complacent, but you’d be wide of the mark. Now Director of Products and Marketing for Emblaze Mobile Global Telecom Distribution, Kevin Piper remains a happy workaholic …

Piper’s retained his obsession with innovation and love of the creative ever since he became one of BT’s first telesales team members in 1979. “I was just 20 and had foregone university – I wanted to get stuck into the business world as soon as possible.

“A childhood spent following my father’s RAF postings may have had something to do with it. I clocked up 16 schools including some in the Middle East and was never at any one long enough to risk expulsion.

“So I spent seven years selling small switches and peripherals in North Wales. I developed customer service skills on both major accounts such as Rio Tinto Zinc and individual consumers who included little old ladies on long waiting lists for a phone.”

The cultural transformation that went with BT’s flotation gave Piper room to stretch his wings. “Between 1985 and 1994 I was Marketing Director, BT Direct, and Head of Marketing for Small Business Market.

“Launching the UK’s first domestic fax machine and the world’s first PSTN videophone brought a real buzz. Moreover, representing BT on the Small Business Research Trust and Business in the Community (North West) taught me that showing customers how to get the best out of what you sell is vital.”

Then in 1994, as Head of Marketing and Business Development BT/BT Openworld, he launched BT Internet and BT Click; and he worked with Alan Sugar on the Amstrad Emailer, a phone-plus-internet-email combo that has notched up 300,000 sales.

“At least he never told me I was fired. In fact, as a committed Spurs fan I particularly welcomed his invitations to the executive box at White Hart Lane.”

Joint ventures with News International and Sky also showed Piper how Rupert Murdoch got things done.

2001 saw him become head of Business Development and Music at O2/Genie Internet. “In some ways it was a busman’s holiday. I’m a music junkie – I can’t wait for the next new wave from punk to the heaviest heavy metal. I still get to about a dozen gigs a year so work became fun launching the O2 music service with Nokia.

“I also enjoyed setting up the Enpocket SMS advertising service and was involved in Enpocket’s creation as board advisor.”

After decades creating and innovating at BT and then 02 it took an invitation from the Israel-based Emblaze Mobile group to prise him away in 2005. As part of an ambitious international strategy, Piper now has a pivotal role: “I manage the 20 strong Emblaze mobile product development and research team in Israel and head the brand creation development of Emblaze Mobile in the UK.

“Acquiring European Telecom was a strategic play and our launch of ET Business Solutions and to consumers has been hugely successful.

“We have concluded agreements with five Far Eastern manufacturers and have launched four new products – Sting 6, Lobster 544, Touch 7 and Lobster 320 with Virgin Mobile, Orange and the Dixons Group. We’re on a roll.”

Driven at work, Piper is driven, too, by a strong moral sense. “I’ve been vegetarian for almost 30 years. Eating out used to be difficult but now there are a lot of us so it’s no longer such a challenge.” Is he a football obsessive, too? “Not really. I have no great interest in the game as such – only in Spurs. Anyone else, no matter who, and my interest flags.”

He enjoys family life in Aylesbury with his wife, Rachel – a carer at a local nursing home – and his three children. A Border terrier completes the family. “Compact, active, healthy and full of character – it’s a perfect companion on long country walks with my iPod.”

He’s also a keen eBayer. “It’s the perfect place to see how buyers and sellers interact. I sell redundant CDs and DVDs and buy the odd thing. I’ll never be one of these people who make millions telling others how to make millions. But it’s like an MBA course if you take all its lessons on customer interaction on board.”

Some say that there’s nothing new under the sun – but don’t expect Piper to agree.

My team
Lifetime regret
That I can’t play guitar
My music
The more way out the better
My sports
I’m a regular at the gym
My hobbies
The internet. I have my own blog
My books
The Pirate Inside by Adam Morgan reflects my business ethos

BT Sales and Marketing executive
BT Direct, Marketing Director; Head of Marketing – Small Business Market
BT/BT Openworld, Head of Marketing & Business Development
O2/Genie Internet, Head of Business Development & Music
2005 –     
Emblaze Mobile Global Telecom Distribution, Director of Products & Marketing

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