The telecoms company leaving a positive impact on the environment, society and governance

European CEO spoke to Carolina Bugaian – CEO of Moldovan leading telecom company Moldcell – to find out more about her biggest challenges since taking over the reins, how Moldcell plan to stay ahead of the competition, the steps they are taking to improve sustainability, and how they are preparing for new and emerging trends

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Moldcell’s CEO, Carolina Bugaian has an impressive academic and professional background, marked by her expertise in financial and project management. Joining Moldcell in 2006 as the company’s first woman Financial Director, her pragmatic and empathetic leadership and strategic vision focusing on digital empowerment and human-centric values led to her appointment as CEO in 2022.

Her leadership emphasises transparency, open-dialogue, and customer-centric collaboration, along with careful planning and prioritisation and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances. These qualities not only drive Moldcell’s growth and innovation, but also inspire and empower her team, and the whole company, to achieve their best, contributing to Moldcell’s vision of being a #DigitallyHuman leader in telecommunications.

What are the top 3 challenges you have faced since becoming CEO, and how did you overcome them?
The Covid-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges, as it did the world over, but implementing robust remote work policies and providing our employees with the necessary support to work from home, we achieved our best financial results during this period. Additionally, to ensure our team continued to feel connected and motivated, we prioritised transparent communication and regular check-ins, along with introducing wellness programs and mental health support to help them cope with the stress and uncertainties brought by the pandemic.

Likewise, the war in neighbouring Ukraine brought significant uncertainties and economic challenges. We took swift measures to maintain the security of the company and our employees, and despite the drastic increase in service prices, ensured that every employee was financially supported to adapt to these changes, which included maintaining stable service prices for customers and providing financial aid to employees to help them cope with the economic impact.

The telecom industry is facing several challenges, including rapid technological advancements, increasing cybersecurity threats, and evolving regulatory requirements. And Moldcell is addressing these by implementing robust cybersecurity measures to protect customer data and ensure privacy and fostering a culture of innovation and agility to quickly respond to market changes and customer needs.

However, one of the biggest challenges we faced was launching 5G technology as this required significant investment in infrastructure and forward-looking to regulatory changes deriving from Moldova’s aspiration to become an EU member. To guarantee we were the first operator in Moldova to access this latest technology, we tackled this issue by forming strategic partnerships, specifically with Ericsson, and took steps to adapt to regulatory changes through proactive compliance and engagement with policymakers, thus ensuring a proactive approach foreseeing 5G toolbox legislation, in providing 5G services which enables faster connectivity speeds, reduced latency and reliable and secure network performance, opening doors to a wide range of possibilities, from IoT applications to critical networks and improved mobile broadband experiences.

Our 5G coverage is currently available in a few key localities in Moldova, and through this initiative, we aim to set new benchmarks in network performance and reliability, strengthening our leadership in the industry and driving progress for businesses and communities alike, and accelerating Moldova’s transition to a digital and green economy.

Can you provide some examples of how your services have improved connectivity and communication for your customers?
One of our earliest digital successes was the mobile signature, a service that even a decade after launch remains extremely popular. This service was a result of a public-private partnership and led to the development of digital ecosystems and enabled the implementation of the M-DOC platform, a particularly beneficial solution for business customers, for electronic document transmission and signing, saving time and resources, and reducing paper usage by 70 percent.

Carolina Bugaian, CEO of Moldcell

Moldcell also provides other solutions for business customers including Virtual PBX for managing call flows, Transport Monitoring for fleet management, significantly increasing operational efficiency, and e-Contract, an eco-friendly digital version of traditional contracts, further supporting environmental protection.

The most downloaded application by our users is the My Moldcell app which allows subscribers to manage their own numbers easily. Additionally, the introduction of eSIM technology offers them the convenience of a digital SIM card, eliminating the need for a physical SIM and saving time and resources.

Moldcell Money, is a mobile wallet service and exemplifies our mission to go beyond traditional telecommunications, allowing users to make payments, transfer money, and manage financial transactions directly from their mobile devices, even without a bank card.

Through these innovative services, we have improved connectivity and communication for our customers, ensuring they benefit from the latest technological advances and reliable, high-quality telecommunications solutions while also prioritising environmental sustainability.

What role does customer feedback play in shaping your services and innovations?
Satisfying the needs of our customers is our priority. We have designated 2024 as our Client Focus year, and implemented an internal strategy with the motto #DO IT, meaning our response to client needs is LET’S DO IT!

Whether it’s launching new services like Moldcell Money or improving existing ones like the My Moldcell app, customer input guides our decisions and enhancements, and customer suggestions often generate new ideas and innovations. By understanding our customers’ challenges and desires, we can develop cutting-edge solutions such as 5G technology and IoT applications that address real-world needs.

This focus on customer feedback is why our leadership team regularly visits Moldcell shops across the country to interact with customers, receive their feedback first-hand, and better understand their needs. By valuing and integrating customer insights, through use of AI technology such as voice-to-text, we can maintain high-quality standards, provide superior services and preserve our position as a leader not only in telecommunications industry, providing connectivity, but also digital and financial inclusion through our products and services.

How does Moldcell plan to maintain its growth trajectory in the future?
Our purpose is: “At Moldcell, we bring the entire world into your hands, so that you could enjoy life even more,” which guides all our efforts, and we are committed to continuously evolving and expanding our service offerings to meet the growing and diverse needs of our customers.

In the short term, we aim to expand 5G coverage across all regions in Moldova, introduce new FinTech solutions, and develop fixed internet and TV services, focusing on digital and financial inclusion to ensure all customers benefit from our advancements.

Long-term, we seek to become the leading #DigitallyHuman operator. We plan to drive innovation in IoT and advanced FinTech services, maintain a strong emphasis on sustainability, and invest in our workforce to foster continuous learning and adaptability.

How does Moldcell plan to stay ahead of the competition?
By focusing on customer-centric strategies, technological innovation, and strategic partnerships, we will continue to enhance our network and expand our digital services.

By leveraging our agile operations and investing in our employees, we ensure that we remain adaptable and responsive to market changes.

Our relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation sets us apart. We are not just following trends; we are setting them! Integrating cutting-edge technologies like AI and IoT, and pioneering new financial solutions, we aim to redefine the telecommunications landscape, while focusing on secure, high-quality connectivity ensures that we provide unparalleled service to our customers.

Additionally, our commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, driven by the Moldcell Foundation, also strengthens our market position.

What is the Moldcell Foundation, and can you highlight some of the community projects?
Established in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that focuses on social, educational, innovation, and research projects that significantly improve the lives of Moldovan citizens, particularly older persons.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Foundation supports the National Program on Active and Healthy Aging for 2023-2027, aiming to digitally empower 25,000 vulnerable older people by 2027. This initiative has not only benefited the elderly but has also inspired government integration into the national agenda.

One of the flagship initiatives is the “Digital Skills Connect Generations” project, also known as “Like from Granny”, that has provided internet-connected smartphones and digital training to seniors in 35 localities with the help of over 250 volunteers.

Another significant project is the “Internet Without Worries” initiative, which has trained over 20,000 children and parents in online safety.

How important is sustainability in Moldcell’s overall strategy?
Sustainability has emerged as a critical issue, and demands responsible action from both individuals and organisations, so investing in sustainability is not just a commitment to the planet but a strategic long-term investment for any brand. And for Moldcell, acting sustainably is a core value embedded in our daily operations. We understand that genuine sustainability starts from within, that’s why we cultivate trusting relationships through integrity, commitment beyond legal requirements, and transparency with all our stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders.

We strive to be a role-model company, leaving a positive impact on the environment, society and governance, and our well-defined purpose, values and strategy provide the roadmap for achieving this vision.

And what steps are you taking to reduce Moldcell’s environmental footprint?
While not directly manufacturing equipment, we acknowledge its impact through infrastructure creation and device usage, so in 2023, we adopted the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards which assessed our materiality, impact, and identified areas for improvement. We are deeply committed to the green transition and minimising the impact of our business on the environment by finding effective solutions to reduce energy consumption, adopt renewable energy and minimise waste, while following relevant environmental laws and regulations.

As we transmit and store more data through our networks (mobile or fixed), the energy needs of our operations increase, so we are working with partners such as Ericsson, Aspire Technology and others to implement energy efficiency measures for increased data traffic volumes, and proactively developing achievable targets to systematically decrease emissions across all facets of our operations. We believe that transparency is paramount, and are unwavering in our exploration of cost-effective renewable energy solutions, fast-tracking our journey toward a sustainable future. We have set clear environmental objectives, pledge to openly communicate our progress, and proudly align our priorities with the Moldovan government’s efforts to achieve European Union integration.

What emerging trends in telecom do you think will shape the telecommunications industry in the next decade?
6G represents the future technical standard for sixth-generation wireless communications, and widespread adoption will revolutionise connectivity, supporting applications from enhanced mobile broadband to critical communications and IoT deployments. Additionally, AI is a trend that helps people become more human by eliminating machine-type work. Both these technologies will help telecom companies optimise network performance, predict maintenance needs, and provide personalised services.

However, as connectivity increases, the importance of cyber security will grow, so ensuring secure and reliable communication channels will be critical. This will require investment in advanced security measures to protect data and infrastructure. The convergence of telecommunications and financial services will also continue to expand, along with an increasing focus on sustainability, such as implementing green practices and technologies to reduce environmental impact, which includes renewable energy sources, energy-efficient network equipment, and sustainable business practices.

How is Moldcell preparing for these trends?
By focusing on innovation, sustainability, and customer-centric services, Moldcell is well-positioned to lead the telecommunications industry into the future. Through significant investments in advanced measures to protect data and infrastructure and incorporating eco-friendly practices and technologies to reduce environmental impact, we aim to stay ahead of these trends and drive progress and provide exceptional services that meet the evolving needs of our customers.