With more than 20 years of experience in the telecoms sector, Chantal is very familiar with the sector. On top of that, she is one of the first to send a text message in Belgium. “20 years ago, that really was the start of the mobile age. In those days you still had to configure certain settings on your handset manually before you could receive a text message. I quite clearly remember receiving my first text. My initial thought was: ‘Wow, this is the future!’.”
Chantal is now in charge of ‘Third Party Services’. “As an operator we cooperate with many partners who offer their services via Premium Voice, texting numbers (abbreviated numbers) or ‘Direct Operator Billing’. For example, calling traditional 0900 numbers, voting for your favorite The Voice candidate by text or using your smartphone to buy an app from the Google Play Store. Customers simply pay for these services via their mobile phone subscription and we ensure that the payment is sent to the provider of the service.”
However, we always have to be vigilant in case fraudsters are involved. We are all no doubt familiar with fake IKEA or BRICO e-mails in which you are asked to call an 0900 number, where you are kept talking for ages and don’t win that coveted 500 euro voucher after all. “I always try to approach my job from an ethical perspective. We must prevent our customers from becoming victims of fraud. If it does happen, we investigate the service and if fraud is identified we refund the customer and block the service."
Before starting her career in the telecoms industry, Chantal’s life was quite different. As a student she worked in the hospitality industry and upon completion of her studies she opened her own jazz & blues café, where various Belgian groups performed during weekends. “I always used to listen to music as a child, but it was never my dream to open my own café. It just happened by coincidence.” And there’s no doubt her café was a great success. I actually organized jam sessions for Bert Joris and Dré Pallemaerts, who were youngsters at the time but are now leading jazz musicians!”
Working 24/7 is quite common in the hospitality industry. “At some point I realized I had to make a choice: whether to do this for the rest of my life or have a go at venturing into the business world.” My decision proved to be the right one. The telecoms industry is continually on the move. When I look back I find it fascinating to see how quickly our sector is evolving.”
“Over the years I have got to know many musicians at a personal level. In fact I handled management operations, including for Bert Joris, for several years. In those days he used to write his own music and I helped him sell it worldwide. And that was before the internet era: I copied the scores and mailed them to America!”