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Culture of Connectivity

In Focus
NAME:Marisa Trisolino
LOCATION:Johannesburg, South Africa
Boasting an immense footprint across Africa and the Middle East, CMC Networks is responsible for keeping the vast continent connected – a responsibility CEO Marisa Trisolino says the company doesn’t take lightly. 

At CMC Networks, one of Africa and the Middle East’s leading digital networks, connectivity is key. It’s a mindset that runs deeply through the veins of the company, reaching beyond its day-to-day activities, such as responding to customers’ needs or its interactions with suppliers.

It also permeates into the way in which each and every employee relates to one another and works towards their collective goals.

“There’s a feeling of solidarity and a sense of being one group. We go out there together to serve the customer,” CMC Networks CEO Marisa Trisolino explains to The CEO Magazine.

“It’s really this feeling of one. We are not a big team – we’re only 150 people – but we have the best of the best, with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of respect for each other and we work with the highest integrity.”

“We take away the pain points that they are facing in their network today so that they can focus on their own business.”

With its 110 service locations globally, including 51 out of the total 54 countries in Africa and 12 areas in the Middle East, CMC Networks has positioned itself as the region’s premier networking and data connectivity provider. Now that its reach has grown to such an impressive point, Trisolino explains that the focus has shifted to the digital aspects.

“We are seeing there is a high demand of requirement and support needed from the enterprise customer and multinationals,” she says. “We’re exploring how to transform their network, how to ensure that they stay abreast of technology and how to hold their hand. Basically, we take away the pain points that they are facing in their network today so that they can focus on their own business.”

The Secret Sauce

Integral to the company’s success is a wide range of suppliers – up to 180 in total – spanning multiple locations that can be relied upon to offer expertise whenever required. Drawing on long-standing, mutually beneficial relationships with service providers, CMC Networks is able to offer its clients the best prices and the most impressive coverage.

“They really are the secret sauce of CMC Networks. We have an exceptionally strong and seasoned supply chain team and have implemented a very robust program, where we score our suppliers and vendors on everything from the ease of doing business with them, to being compliant with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, giving us the best cost, delivery times and repair times,” reveals Trisolino.

“We work collaboratively with our suppliers and reward them because they help us. Without them, we wouldn’t be successful. It’s a win-win across the board.”

“We work collaboratively with our suppliers and reward them because they help us.”

Utilizing such a large number of suppliers allows CMC Networks to ensure diversity as well as drive competitive costs, Trisolino explains.

“By working with multiple players in every country we have the capability to find unique solutions for customers,” she says.

“We are agile and flexible, and what makes us different is we’ve got this very large footprint across the continent. But we make sure we understand every country’s technology and landscape. We understand the languages, we’ve got good relationships.”

An emphasis on ethical and sustainable practices continues to be a priority for CMC Networks, as do community-driven initiatives.

“Being in South Africa, local employment is critical. I think that as a telco, or internet service provider, we play a pivotal role in job creation – not just within our own company, but within the broader ecosystem of all our suppliers and vendors,” she notes.


“We are tapping into this digital area now, and we really invest, we train and we upskill, from our network engineering teams to our business teams to our sales teams. We are really focusing on training, which is very important for both us and the entire economy.”

Trisolino explains that even throughout the wider supply chain, CMC Networks ensures that anyone it works with is qualified in anti-bribery training.

“Transparency is very important to us, as is being ethical,” she insists. “We make sure that all our operations and our business practices are done with the highest ethical standards.”

“We are really focusing on training, which is very important for both us and the entire economy.”

Indeed, as well as being MEF certified for services including software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and carrier ethernet, CMC Networks is leading the way when it comes to ensuring high industry standards by achieving a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Level One status, which highlights a commitment to both diversity and inclusion.

Trisolino adds that the company takes measures to ensure its network is able to withstand any unforeseen event and recover rapidly so that reliability is guaranteed.

“We keep investing in research, development and technology, and we do our very best to stay abreast of what the drivers are,” she confirms. “Customers are the ones who keep telling you what they need, so, you’ve got to move very fast to be able to deliver. Our biggest mission right now is making sure that we stay relevant and keep sizing up our competition.”

A Digital Pivot

In turn, this plays into CMC Networks’ primary concern for the next three-to-five years, which will see the company continuing to explore the digital pivot it has recently embarked on.

“We’re in phase one, which is heavily focused on automation and AI,” says Trisolino. “For one thing, it’s about increasing speed: speed to market, delivering to customer satisfaction and ensuring the customer is put first.”

One such way it is tackling this is the introduction of an internal platform called CMC Fusion Marketplace.

“CMC Fusion is going to become a marketplace for any multinational, Tier-1 or wholesale operator to tap into, where we can provide them with an immediate price response,” she explains.

“They can order based on their requirements, and we will be able to proactively manage our network to ensure that we can roll out any software-defined network or SD-WAN solution for the customer.”

“Working with CMC Networks has been rewarding and mutually beneficial. Since the initiation of the relationship over a decade ago, we have grown the portfolio of connectivity solutions and provided value to help achieve its evolving business needs.” – Segun Okuneye, Divisional CEO, ipNX Business


The ongoing aim is to employ a digital approach that significantly reduces lead time and gets customers up and running as rapidly as possible.

“What we’re building with CMC Fusion is also going to proactively monitor our own network. It will mean that we learn the paths in our network so that we avoid any congestion,” she points out.

“We are ensuring that we are alerting a customer where there might be a potential issue and we can correct it proactively before there is the actual issue, glitch, outage or whatever it may be in the network.”

However, Trisolino is also quick to note that while AI and automation are useful tools, their value will never outweigh that of its employees.

“Our biggest asset is our people. The people that we have in this company are solid. They have been here for years. They have a tremendous love for the African continent and a tremendous love for the company,” she reveals.

“It’s largely engineers, but they very much have an entrepreneurial spirit. So we listen to what the customer wants and help build it out. We sit on the same side of the table as them.”

“It’s about increasing speed: speed to market, delivering to customer satisfaction and ensuring the customer is put first.”

With plans to continue expanding so that ever more customers can experience CMC Networks’ high-quality service, ultimately, what the business is trying to achieve is to “remain a trusted partner for any customer out there that requires connectivity, digital transformation support and connectivity to the cloud”, according to Trisolino.

“There is no other player who has the footprint, the size, the network capability and the innovation that we have embedded in our network,” she says. “There is no one else who can deliver what we are doing.”

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