E27 - Guy Willner at IXcellerate

James Dean
Guy  Willner

By James Dean & Guy Willner

Coming up on today’s episode, Director of Telecoms, James Dean sat down with Guy Willner, the Co-Founder and Chairman at IXAFRICA. Guy walks us through his time at university and if it benefited him in any way to where he is today and what they are currently working on at IXAFRICA.

Taking it back to the late 80s, Guy was working at Phillips in Paris doing Computer Programming. He was hired into Vivendi, a utility group to do Telecoms back in the UK, which led him into telecoms and cable tv.

After Vivendi was sold, he thought he would start his own company. He did some research and originally focused on the UK, eventually branched out into 4 countries, the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland. they tried to float the business then the .com market imploded so were left with 25 years of leases on buildings across Europe. This was a huge struggle and consisted of 2-3 years of intense hard work.

He worked for a little electronics company and learned a lot about real life during those times and it was at that point he thought it might be a good idea to get a degree. At the same time, he applied to the air force to be an Engineer Office. During his time in the air force, he realised he’d always be second class as an Engineer Officer because the pilots were always number 1. At the same time, nothing was happening back then in the war so there wouldn’t have been much for him to do. He learned a lot but left before signing up for the 5–10-year contract.

If anyone was considering university, he suggests that it could potentially be hard for someone if they didn’t take the university route, unless they have past experience with many people from different backgrounds. You could get the techy job but maybe not the management job.


IXAfrica Nairobi Campus is the new home for the cloud, colocation and connectivity in East Africa. His position at IXAFRICA is Chairman & Co-Founder. They are currently building out IXAFRICA on East Africa’s biggest campus.

If he could give advice to anyone wanting to get their foot in the door it would be to stay up to date with the technology. Don’t believe everything companies tell you, especially on the technology side of things. Understand what’s going on on the business side, and what management accounts look like in a small company and know what’s happening on the financial side. If you’re in Pre-Sales, then you need to understand how a customer focuses. Have empathy and understand where they’re coming from and the problems they’re facing.

With the industry constantly changing, Guy shares where he sees the industry going in the next 10 years… listen now to hear the full episode!