Make Your Own Luck with Chet Patel of BT Global

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I’m about to flip a coin so call it in the air. Heads or tails? … What did you choose? If you were making a bet, which side of the coin would you bet on and how much are you willing to lose? In the movie The Dark Knight, before he becomes a villain, Harvey Dent is the white knight. He takes risks and flips a coin to make major decisions betting that luck will make him a winner. It seems foolhardy until you come to realize, actually, he makes his own luck. BT Global operates much the same way. The difference is that where Harvey Dent takes a villainous turn, BT maintains its longstanding heroic posture, driven to connect the world for good. Still, like Dent, BT is always playing two hands at once, betting on both sides of the coin to make its own luck. It is what Chet Patel, the Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director, Americas at BT, says has helped the company make its own luck for more than 100 years. How did BT do it and how does it work with and prepare customers for problems right now and those to come?  Find out on Business X factors.

Main takeaways: 

  • Make Your Own Luck: Rather than take a passive approach, companies need to always be working to set themselves and their customers up for success. In order to make your own luck you have to dig into a number of areas of your business, work to disrupt yourself, and always keep an eye on the competition and never be afraid to go head-to-head with them. 
  • Develop Product Paranoia: The saying goes that every cloud has a silver lining, but in an uncertain, disruptive, ever-changing world, looking for the dark cloud in the silver lining can help you to prepare for the next storm. Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines insisted on lean operations and cost-cutting in good times to be prepared for the next storm and at BT, there is always an assumption that the competitors in the field are working to out-innovate and surpass the company, which creates a sense of urgency and creativity that might not otherwise exist.
  • Give Customers a Future Roadmap: Many companies are reluctant to share their future roadmap with customers because they don’t want there to be any disappointment if things don’t go to plan. Sharing a roadmap can, however, lead to valuable customer feedback and it creates a relationship of trust with customers. When you share your plans, customers can see exactly what you are working on and they would feel more invested in your company. But it is important to follow through and implement great ideas otherwise customers could lose trust in your company.

Key Quotes:

“We’ve all done it as consumers, we’ve invested in tech. And then three years later, you think, oh, right. So this is useless. Now I need to reinvest in technology. So it’s about doing both of those things impressing today and exciting for the future.”

“BT is the most experienced telco in the world. We’re the first telco in the world… So, when we talk about privatization and monopoly and regulation and technology and all the things that have happened in society since then, we’ve been around since 1875. We’ve experienced most things in one way or another and thrived and generated more innovation and new stuff along for society and our customers and our employees. So, I think part of that X factor comes from that stability, that continuity, the trust and everything else around it.”

“What we’ve managed to do across all those times is just to keep pushing the boundary, working with the ecosystem of other companies, but to keep pushing it, to keep reinventing it. So still be relevant and to make life easier for people to live and to do commerce with as well, whether you’re a consumer, a small business or a large government or a large multinational organization, our mission is to connect for good, to make life easier for people.”

“The most important thing that we try to do with consumers, whether they be big businesses or global businesses is demystify it. Explain to them what technology is capable of. And then we take a step back.”

“We want to go in the future. Let’s create something working together that will meet these needs today and give you the flexibility, the choice, and the optionality going forward into the future as well. So, you can chop and change because nobody wants to be stuck with one technology for the rest of their existence. That’s not a good place. People want to be able to swap out.”

“BT global services helps customers to evaluate, to test, to check technical capabilities, operational capabilities, and commercial reality around this, and to make sure it fits within their business.. It’s really practical. It’s going to work, it’s going to service their customers or employees and deliver the value based outcomes that they’re after. But importantly, it has a future roadmap.” 

“We’re developing our cybersecurity practice really rapidly at the moment. And we’ve launched new services and new products, new capabilities…. It’s us really understanding their business and actually helping our customers to really understand their business, provoking them, to answer and think about the questions that they need to be thinking about, and then jointly solving it with them and operationalizing it, using the latest and the greatest technology.”


Chet Patel is BT’s Chief Commercial Officer, Managing Director, global sales commercial, indirect channels and President, Americas. Patel is an experienced commercial, sales, marketing, and portfolio leader with global experience in the Telecom, IT and Software in B2B markets. Previously, Chet served as the President of Europe, running sales, marketing and operations, and managing a complex set of operations across numerous legal entities to deliver growth. He also served as Non-Executive Director of London First, a business-focused platform campaigning for London’s global competitiveness to become the ‘best city in the world’ and supports the #HopeUnited campaign to tackle online hate.

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Episode 28