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CIO50 2021 #26-50: Martin Sharrock, 2degrees

  • Name Martin Sharrock
  • Title Chief Technology Officer
  • Company 2degrees
  • Commenced role March 2020
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 300 staff, seven direct reports
  • 2degrees chief technology officer Martin Sharrock says the company has spent the past two years using technology to enable “transformed experiences” for customers and the 2degrees team.

    Customer-centric transformation

    Sharrock says the full service telco has significantly improved its network and performance, with its mobile network becoming independently recognised by Ookla, Opensignal, Tutela and Canstar in 2021. Just three significant innovations by 2degrees have been.

    ·      Introducing Multi Operator Radio Access Network sharing (MoRAN) technology, launching 238 new 4G cell sites in rural and suburban NZ in nine months. Sharrock says this is the first innovation of its kind in New Zealand, where 2degrees 4G radio spectrum transmits from partner cell sites and connects back to the core network, so customers have a seamless, high-performance experience. It’s also an ecological innovation, avoiding the need to build over 200 duplicate cell towers by using smart collaboration and engineering.

    ·      Using Multi Operator Core Network (MOCN) technology to launch new rural cell sites in collaboration with the Rural Connectivity Group (in partnership with Spark and Vodafone). Customers have 2degrees service in remote corners of NZ thanks to in-depth technology integration work, Sharrock says.

    ·      Leveraging the national fibre network to enable centralised RAN (radio access network) architecture and design. “With low latency fibre available at cell sites, we have been able to locate the ‘brains’ of our base stations away from the roadside, grouping them together in local exchange buildings and other sites, reducing footprint on the roadside, reducing power usage, cost and allowing for easier operations and maintenance. This also means we have improved capacity and coverage for customers in hard-to-reach urban locations,” Sharrock says.

    New ‘smart’ company headquarters

    For the 2degrees team, Sharrock says that technology has been deployed to “reinvent how we work”. They have done this by opening a ‘smart building’ in Auckland, bringing two offices together and reducing traditional desks by half.   

    Connectivity is enhanced by installing 3G and 4G miniature small cells (which are also 5G ready) covering the office and common spaces, with WiFi 6 coverage and fibre to the desk so the 2degrees team  can work faster and smarter.  There are also 17 air quality monitoring stations measuring five different indicators of the environment every 10 seconds, a Floorsense app that allows people to remotely book a desk each day and manage their locker allocation, and SmartSpace tech on desks with an app integrated sensor, wireless chargerand status light.

    The new building is now also a showcase for New Zealand enterprises and businesses to experience cutting-edge technology experiences in the workplace. 

    Gender diversity

    Sharrock says in the Technology and IT division they have initiatives focused on enabling greater gender diversity. “Faced with a leadership team with men in the majority; we expanded the team to includes cross-functional representatives from key stakeholder groups. As a result, we moved to a 50% gender representation, which offers us greater diversity of thought, and has transformed the way we are working together as a team,” he says.

    Coming out of this change, was the desire to see wider improvements with more inclusion of women in Technology and IT. A group diverse in age and experience level has formed with the goal to make 2degrees “the best place for women to grow their technology career”. The four pillars underpinning the group’s initiatives are: 

    ·      Attract and recruit women into technology roles (including leadership and senior roles);

    ·      Build connections for women in technology;

    ·      Provide support to enable women to grow and thrive at 2degrees;

    ·      Recognise women for their achievements.

     The aspirations are strongly supported by 2degrees’ executive leadership team, and importantly the group has been given the autonomy to grow and develop initiatives in the way they see fit, Sharrock says.

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