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ASTCA’s new “oveerseas” marketing consultant draws criticism from staff

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Six month contract went to a techie from Samoa

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) has defended the hiring of an overseas “Marketing Consultant” to assist with the entity’s development of its’ marketing division.

The contract is for six months.

Chief Executive Officer, Chuck Leota told Samoa News the Authority always promotes from within and hires from on island when possible.

“The challenge is that our needs [are] particularly unique and narrow when compared to most other businesses and government departments (we share similar but different challenges with LBJ and ASPA).

“ASTCA operates in a highly technical space that is also very regulated. Operating a telecom with stateside services on a remote island (and not on scale) with a small population and therefore limited experience labor market is challenging. In some functional job areas, it is not even possible,” said Leota in response to questions from Samoa News.

Last week Samoa News received complaints from ASTCA employees on the hiring of an overseas marketing expert when there are local staff that can do the job.

Leota, in his response to Samoa News, added that ASTCA does employ consultants and service providers across different areas — from engineering, technology, regulatory compliance, legal, grants — and commercial.

“If not for these services, ASTCA and other companies on the island involved in communications, energy and medical would not be able to provide the services we do for our people today,” he noted.

He said it is true the authority hired a consultant from Apia.

“ASTCA has contracted services to an individual from Samoa to assist our Commercial department. This individual has Telecom experience in product development and mobile prepaid services. Prepaid mobile is our most important revenue segment for growth and opportunity, and it is where we have the least market share and are performing worst.

“Hence my sourcing this resource for the benefit of our Commercial team,” Leota stated.

He said the primary focus of this temporary position is to assist ASTCA Marketing in analyzing product and mobile prepaid revenues.

“And helping the team in deploying new products/ services — to increase revenue. In working with and collaborating with our on-island team, knowledge transfer and professional development will occur, and this knowledge will then become an asset of ASTCA.

“As for this person being specifically from Apia, this is a blessing,” he said.

“Contracting when possible from Apia versus hiring from the USA brings additional value in both savings and a genuine understanding of our people's human behaviors and purchasing habits.

“This is difficult (if not impossible) to replicate otherwise and is a wonderful opportunity for ASTCA to get an immediate return on investment over a shorter period (the consultant’s contract is six months).”

Improving the skills of our people while imprinting a conscious awareness that organizational and cultural change must occur so that ASTCA can best serve our people, be profitable, and be a catalyst for economic development in the territory is my goal as CEO.”

He said ASTCA has a lot of talent that is lying below the surface.

“Creating the circumstances and the environment whereby it shows itself is how I intend to do it with our team — and it can be messy at times — and regretfully treacherous from even members of our own team.”