Organizational Culture: Virgin Mobile USA Inc. Essay Example
Organizational culture refers to the human behavior in an organization and the meanings attributed to such behavior. Such behavior defines the characteristics of the organization because culture is about the organization do things based on its peoples’ attitude, behavior, and perspectives (Warkins, 2013). The discussion encompasses an exploration of the prevailing culture in an organization, which in this case is the Virgin Mobile USA Inc. The company is among the top prepaid mobile service providers in the United States and in some parts of the world such as Australia and the United Kingdom. The company’s organizational culture will be examined through a collective discussion of the key areas of its business such as the key people, brand identity, unique characteristics of the company, vision/mission, social responsibility, values and ethics, management, and leadership. Early assumption on the company’s organizational culture suggests that Virgin Mobile USA Inc. creates all the right conditions that will foster a work environment where having happy people entails beneficial growth on the company’s productivity.
The Virgin Mobile Culture
The company is fond of giving people what they want. It creates every opportunity to connect with its costumer’s social demand through its service packages. The same attitude reflects on how the company treats its employees (Warren, 2011). Virgin Mobile USA believes in the importance of riding with the trend. With the young customer based that makes up 60% of the company’s customers, almost all the social and upbeat trends are being interjected in the services. For instance, the company believes that Americans has an appetite for celebrity gossip and what’s better to spread the word is through mobile-supported functions (Klompsma, 2013). Hence, the company introduced service packages that include free data usage on Twitter so that the young generation of celebrity followers can talk about what they want in the social app. This attitude demonstrates how the company leverages on the social intricacies of the pop culture and maintains the culture of riding with social trend even within the organization.
The company was the brainchild of its Founders Richard Branson and Dan Schulman. Operations began in summer of 2002 after the Singapore-based Telco Company Singapore Telecommunications Limited together with Virgin Group and Sprint Corporation ventured together in 2001. Since its conception, the company became the first prepaid mobile service network provider in the United States and the only company that provides prepaid only services in the country (virginmobileusa.com, N.D.). In 2007, the company opened its doors for public offering, but a year later, Virgin Mobile USA reported significant losses, which led to the full take over of Sprint Nextel on July 28, 2009 where the outstanding shares held by the Virgin Group was sold to Sprint Nextel (virginmobileusa.com, N.D,). The following years, Virgin Mobile USA became the prepaid division of Sprint Network together with the integration of Common Cents Mobile and Boost Mobile. Since then, the company was able to retain the distinct “Virgin” brand as one of the leading providers of prepaid mobile services in the United States (virginmobileusa.com, N.D.).
The full acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA by Sprint Nextel led to the displacement of its former CEO Dan Shulman in 2009. Currently, the brand is under the Sprint umbrella as one of its subsidiaries. The key individuals taking care of the brand are Jeff Anuman as the Vice President of Virgin Mobile USA business line and Mark Lederma sitting as the business line director. The company is headquartered in Warren, New Jersey (virgin.com, 2009).
The brand is synonymous to youth and connectivity. Virgin Mobile USA introduced new propositions that focus on serving customers who wants to stay connected without being tied up to any service contract obligations. As mentioned by its founder Richard Branson, Virgin Mobile is not just a brand, but also a youth culture in itself (Urso, 2013). Imparting what the brand is all about to depend on how the consumers identify the product and what picture of a company the customers see when they hear the name of the brand. When people hear the name Virgin Mobile or saw the simple word Virgin with mobile inside the elongated oval enclosure, the first thing that comes to people’s find is affordable disposable phone with fairly inexpensive service rates bought through top up cards. Virgin Mobile is often identified as a brand for the youth because of accessibility of the services to the American Youth. Hence, there are no plans required, younger mobile phone users prefer the Virgin Mobile services since underage consumers are not qualified for a contract-based service plan.
Unique Characteristics of the Company and its Culture
The unique characteristic of the company that defines its organization culture is the belief that individuals can make a difference. The company never stops to shake things up as observed in how they created a generation of prepaid mobile service users in the United States. The company leverages on its people’s talent where the members of the organization is continuously integrating the latest social trends into the mobile service business perspective. Such culture built on youth and mobile connectivity allowed the company to create a culture of fun and convenience. With several events such as concerts, movies, and or press conference, Virgin Mobile ensures that the customers and the people in the organization are able to experience the upbeat environment created by the brand.
Philanthropic and Community Projects
The company’s leadership particularly the founder of Virgin Group emphasizes the importance of social responsibility and philanthropy as fundamental element in the company’s organizational culture. Virgin Mobile USA encourage its people to take part in the creation of the non-profit organization referred to as Virgin Unite and allow customers to get involved. Given the number of people in need today, the company made sure that its philanthropic work is aligned with core business strategies. Part of the initiatives created by the company to drive change is to establish campaigns that are in-sync with its niche market. One example is the project created by Virgin Unite that focuses on helping homeless youth (leadersmag.com, 2011).
The company adopts the vision and mission statement of its for parent company the Virgin Group. For its vision statement the company states, “to become the largest no catch mobile operator in the country” (virginmobile.ca, N.D.). On the other hand, the mission statement reads “Virgin believes in making a difference, we stand for value for money, quality, innovation, fun, and a series of competitive challenges” (Gurgaon, 2013).
The company’s market leadership was drawn from the strength of its parent company Sprint Nextel. With the combination of Common Cents Mobile and Boost Mobile, the market leadership was gained through a significant increase in market shares, which makes the combination of the prepaid brands the top contender in the prepaid market. However, Virgin Mobile USA alone as a brand does not encompass the same industry leaders it had before the Sprint takeover. Although the brand ranks as the top prepaid mobile brand in the United States, its customer base is dwindling as a result of less expensive contract-based mobile services.
Virgin Mobile USA’s organizational leadership was inherited from its current parent company, Sprint Nextel. Apart from the two vice presidents heading the company’s direction on behalf of Sprint, the key executives for Virgin Mobile USA also includes Jonathan Marchbank as the Chief Operating Officer (bloomberg.com, 2015). There is only a short list of executives in the company as it was significantly downsized after the Sprint’s acquisition. The company now relies on independent retailers for selling and distribution of the phone units and top-up cards.
The company’s business ethics and corporate values is a critical part of its giving importance towards the stakeholder. Virgin Group including Virgin Mobile USA under the Sprint Nextel licensed subsidiaries defined its Code of Conduct that covers the ethical issues ranging from environmental, behavioral, business, and human rights concerns. To demonstrates its commitment in ensuring the ethical direction of the company, Virgin created three non-profit organizations that will serve as the executing body for all the brands social responsibility projects. These NGO’s are Virgin Green, Virgin Earth, and Virgin Unite (Honey, 2012). The company also allocate significant amount of money for its Virgin Green Fund to support the innovative initiatives towards finding sustainability.
The company operates in several countries and that brings them on a diversity level that transcends from one nationality to another. Primarily, the company emphasizes the importance of teamwork and despises discrimination within its ranks. Having said that, Virgin Mobile USA employed individuals from different ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. The brand encompasses unity among the young generation of mobile phones and the management ensures that such disposition also reflects in its organizational group. One of the most important parts of the Code of Conduct implemented by Virgin Mobile USA is the strict implementation of no discrimination clauses.
Employee Engagement, Development, and Participation
Employee engagement is apparent in the company considering that Virgin Mobile allowed its people to take part in creating the Virgin Unite organization where employees are abele to give back to communities and encourage customers to get involved.
Since the brand itself was intended for the young generation of mobile phone users, the company ensures the same culture circulates within the organization where a significant number of its employees under the Virgin Groups relatively belong to Generation Y and Z or the cohort of people that was born during the 1980s and late 1990s. The age range of individuals that belongs in the said generation is the ones who are believed by the company as the right generation of individuals that can greatly relate to its young consumers.
Culture Change and Growths
There has no significant change in the company’s culture since its conception until the take over by Sprint Nextel in 2009. The same culture of fun and innovation remained, but it is no longer as loud as it was before the take over. However, the streamlining of the company’s business strategies, although toned down the fun culture by a few notches paved the way for the growth of the brand as the leading prepaid phone service company in the United States.
Key Factors Contributed to the Success of Virgin Mobile
Flexibility is main contributor to the success of Virgin Mobile USA. The company encompasses the chameleon characteristics that can ride along with the changes in its business environment (Tsirulnik, 2008). From the time of Richard Branson during the introduction of the company in 2001 to the take over by Sprint Nextel, Virgin Mobile as a brand in the US was able to withstand the ups and downs in its past years in the industry because the brand can adapt to changes both internally and externally.
What was learned from Virgin Mobile USA culture?
What was learned from knowing the culture of Virgin Mobile USA is that change is constant and the only thing that will keep the organization in its prime is having the ability to adapt to the changes. The company had seen its ups and downs, but the legacy of young and fresh attitude of the people behind the brand was able gain a foothold in its intended market.
Will this be the Company for me?
In terms of fun and very sociable work environment, yes Virgin Mobile USA is the place to be. However, there are certain considerations in making a decision to choose the company as a company to work with. For instance, the company is no longer as independent as it was before the Sprint take over, and with the challenges that the prepaid mobile network industry is facing amidst the growing potential of the contract-based services, the future is not certain for anyone working in the Virgin Mobile USA. Although the parent company is strong and stable, it may soon decide to let go of the Virgin Mobile brand once it failed to success in the prepaid sector.
Virgin Mobile USA is an example of a company driven by unconventional entrepreneurship. The youth culture was deeply embedded into the brand’s core characteristics, which works advantage for the company since it was able to capture significant shares of the prepaid mobile phone service. In addition, the company’s employees enabling them to connect more to the people and ultimately, to share common interests in serving communities with the customers adopted the culture of fun and charity. It is apparent that Virgin Mobile USA was able to establish its unique culture through youth and innovation.
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