Erik Aas is a familiar face in the telecommunications sector of Bangladesh, widely respected for his decades' long service to different companies.
As the chief executive officer (CEO) of the country's largest mobile operator Grameenphone from 2004 to 2007, the Norwegian professional played a significant role in turning the company into the behemoth that it is today.
Erik – during his tenure as the Grameenphone CEO – helped boost the operator's subscriber base from a mere 2 million to 15 million in just 34 months, which made this company the market leader in Bangladesh's telecom sector.
He joined as the CEO of Banglalink on 1 December 2015, and with his leadership, the telecom company has been making stable progress despite strong competition. In the last calendar year, Banglalink reported 0.7% revenue growth, while most other market competitors registered de-growth in revenue.
In a recent interview with The Business Standard, Erik Aas pointed out that leadership is not a one-man show, it has to be teamwork. He also talked about his personal life and career prospects of new graduates in the telecom sector.
While discussing the qualities essential for becoming the CEO of a company such as Banglalink, he said getting the best team and having trust in that team is an important quality of a boss.
"Aside from this, a CEO should treat his team as smarter than himself. This is so important," Erik said, adding that a boss should listen more than he speaks because he has to assume that people around him are smarter than himself.
"As a leader, if you think you are the smartest guy, you have the best ideas and you make the best decisions, the company will be limited by one person," he opined.
Talking about leadership, the Banglalink boss said generally, it should be a joint effort rather than an individual one. "It should not be a one-man show. Sometimes a boss has to make a decision and sometimes he needs to talk a matter through with his team," he said.
Discussing the career prospect of fresh graduates, the Banglalink boss said every year they are bringing in new colleagues from new graduates.
He continued, "We are recruiting fresh graduates without any business experience because we believe they have a fresh thinking and views about this industry. My experience with a younger colleague is that they tackle problems and leaders differently.
"They are not stuck in the hierarchy, who is what and who is powerful." Erik added that the company also hires younger colleagues as they are very often better at understanding customer service.
Talking about the beginning of his career in the telecom sector, he said his first job was a data communication officer at a company in Norway. In June 2001, he first landed in Bangladesh as a Telenor official, and then gradually became Grameenphone's board member and CEO.
He later went back to Norway, then returned to Bangladesh again and joined Banglalink as the CEO in 2015.
When asked about his hobbies, the Banglalink CEO uttered a unique word "Jobby," mentioning that his job has turned into a hobby. To some extent it may sound boring, but I feel very fortunate that I do things which are both my job and hobby."
A robust knowledge about the telecom industry is not the only thing in his portfolio, because Erik Aas is also good at downhill skating. He engages in the sport whenever he visits his home country.
Even in Bangladesh, amid a busy daily routine, Erik spares some time to hit the gym and jog to remain in shape. He used to visit his children who have been staying in Thailand, but such visits have become very complicated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Erik also loves gardening during his holidays.