GTB announces Power100 for 2017

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GTB Editor
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View our list of 100 powerful names behind the telecoms sector


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The first Global Telecoms Business Power100 listing was launched in our 100th issue in September/October 2008 and it has evolved over several years. It is no longer ranked, and has now been divided into different categories to make it easier to navigate.

This year we have continued to categorise the list, splitting teleomcs operators by region: Africa, APAC, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East; over-the-top and content providers has been merged into software and services, to reflect the changing nature of content as a key part of the industry. 

Hardware vendors includes handset manufacturers, those who build technology for the networks the biggest telecoms operators use, and the wider hardware industry. We also have merged regulators with industry bodies, to reflect the influence of both on the industry as a whole. Subsea and satellite is merged into one category covering the majority of the global wholesale community, which plays such a key role in carrying traffic across the world for many operators. - this also includes data centre providers.

We tasked our readers with submitting nominees for this year’s Power 100, as we wanted to know not just the big names, but those the industry felt were the real power, the real influencers, behind the telecoms sector. Many of them were nominated by their companies, but some were suggested by others. The final selection was a long and difficult process, made entirely by our editorial team, which will inevitably disappoint those who have been left out. When you take an industry that covers nearly every country, and connects billions of people; an industry with millions of employees worldwide working for thousands of companies, you have a lot of potential candidates. However, this is an industry of thousands of powerful and innovative people, and it is always difficult to pick just 100 of them. so we have endeavoured to include those we feel fit our criteria.

Disagree with our selections or think we’ve missed someone? Let us know – contact us on Twitter or through our LinkedIn group and tell us what you think. 

Without further adieu, our list. To view the digital magazine >>> CLICK HERE.

Six operators from Africa

Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom

With more than 30 years’ experience in the telecoms sector, Bob Collymore has served as Safaricom’s chief executive since November 2010. A pioneer in the field of mobile money, Safaricom successfully integrated the UN’s SDG initiative into its organisation and is rolling out a mobile-based platform to help low-income households access healthcare services.

Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman, Econet

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Recently, Econet launched an OTT service looking for operator partners in Africa.

Funke Opeke, CEO, MainOne 

Funke Opeke is one of Africa’s most impressive women. An electrical engineer by trade, Opeke spent more than two decades in the US where she was executive director of Verizon’s wholesale division. She returned to Nigeria, and ultimately formed MainOne in 2008 – the company built West Africa’s first privately-owned subsea cable system connecting Nigeria to Portugal, and has now moved into the data centre space, with Opeke continuing to lead the way.

Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom

In 2017, Rudnick spearheaded the acquisition of Neotel, South Africa’s second largest fixed-line operator, strengthening Liquid Telecom’s positon in the South African telecoms market and expanding its pan-African fibre network to over 50,000km.This deal followed the successful acquisition of Tanzania’s leading ISP, Raha, and ensures that Liquid Telecom has built the single largest fibre network on the African continent. In July, the company secured a $700 million bond and term loan financing package which attracted high quality investors, many investing in African high yield bonds for the first time. This will help Liquid Telecom change the face of communications in the region, and deliver on its vision that every individual on the continent has the right to be connected. 

Mohamed Shameel, CEO, Vodacom

Shameel, former CEO of Vodafone Spain, has headed southern Africa’s Vodacom group since 2012. This year his group expanded its territory by buying a 35% stake in Kenya’s Safaricom, the world pioneer of mobile money, from the parent of both companies, Vodafone. A year ago Vodacom was widely named as likely to be among the bidders for the South African government’s Broadband Infraco; but more recently it looks as though South Africa is looking at other strategies, possibly turning it into a national network.

Rob Shuter, president and CEO, MTN

Shuter replaced Sifiso Dabengwa, who resigned in 2015 after the Nigerian authorities imposed a massive fine on the telecommunications company. Shuter - a South African national - was the chief executive of the European cluster at Vodafone Group and with extensive experience in telecoms and banking having held senior management roles at Vodacom, Standard Bank and Nedbank prior to joining Vodafone.

12 operators from APAC

Mukesh Ambani, managing director, Reliance Jio

The much-anticipated commercial launch of Reliance Jio’s 4G services came in September 2016. Ambani, India’s richest man, is behind Reliance Industries’ $21bn investment in setting up infrastructure for 4G services, as well as 250,000km of fibre-optic cable and 90,000 4G towers. Jio has disrupted the Indian market - all of its major rivals have had difficult years, despite repeated legal battles with the new challenger.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman, Bharti Airtel

Under Mittal’s leadership, Bharti Airtel is successfully navigating an increasingly difficult competitive landscape in the Indian telco sector. Recently, the service provider launched Project Next which aims to invest $311 million to revamp customers touch points and improve subscriber experience. In addition, the company has pledged a further $2.5 billion throughout 2017-2018 on building out the 4G capacity in the country with a further $500 million to be invested in its businesses in Africa.

Shang Bing, executive director & chairman, China Mobile

Shang replaced previous chairman Xi Guohua in 2015, as part of a government-coordinated reshuffle of all the leadership of China’s three state-controlled operators. Like many at or near the top in China, he has had senior positions as president of both China Telecom and China Unicom in turn, and in the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology itself. His predecessor was also in the same ministry before he replaced Wang Jianzhou in 2012. Shang heads the biggest operator in the world by customer numbers, one that is playing a leading role in the development of 5G. 

Ernest Cu, CEO, Globe Telecom

Cu, who has led Globe Telecom in the Philippines since 2008, has watched over its network modernisation programme and seen the company improve market share. This year Globe and rival operator PLDT completed a deal to acquire 700MHz spectrum for $1.5 billion from San Miguel – despite regulatory opposition. 

Jang Dong-Hyun, CEO, SK Telecom

Jang has held numerous positions within the company and its many subsidiaries over the years, from COO of SK planet, CFO, chief of strategic management department and head of financial operating group at SK Telecom. Between 2015 and 2017 he served as CEO of SK Telecom and most recently he appointed to CEO of SK Holdings. During his tenure SK Telecom’s saw an increase of 11.1% in its LTE subscribers, reaching 21.08 million at the end of 2016. Additionally, its number of mobile subscribers also grew 3.4% in the year to 29.6 million.

Li Ka-Shing, chairman, Hutchison

According to Forbes Li is the richest man in Hong Kong with a net worth of approximately $33 billion. As chairman of CK Hutchison and its business operations across 50 countries, Li has successful seen the company through a year of growth. CK Hutchison saw an increase of 69% YoY in its active customers, across its European telco, 3 Group bringing their total of active customers up to 45.2 million. Revenues for the group were also higher, up 10% to HK$33,215 ($4.2 billion) year-on-year. 

Vinod Kumar, CEO, Tata Com

Vinod Kumar is managing director of Tata Communications Limited and CEO of Tata Communications Limited Group, part of the $96.79 billion Tata Group. With over 20 years of experience in the global telecoms industry, Kumar has a track record in developing business strategies and creating fast growth organisations around the globe. He has been at the forefront of Tata Communications’ shift away from traditional network services towards managed services and, recently, cloud computing. 

Kate McKenzie, CEO, Chorus

The former Telstra COO replaced Mark Ratcliffe as CEO of the New Zealand company from February 2017. She is in charge of the the rollout of its ultrafast broadband and will focus on customer experience. McKenzie announced her resignation from Telstra in July 2016 following a series of network outages.

Andy Penn, CEO, Telstra

Penn has held a number of positions at Telstra before becoming CEO. Prior to his appointment he served as CFO and head of strategy before becoming chief executive officer in May 2015. Further to the promises made last year to launch the Telstra Global Media Network, the company recently announced its partnership with News Corp to merge its pay-TV offerings. Under the agreement, Foxtel and Fox Sports Australia will now become one company to create scale in Australia’s increasingly competitive pay TV marketplace.

Alexander Rusli, president director and CEO, Indosat Ooredoo

Alexander Rusli has led Indosat Ooredoo (IO)’s transformation into a leading digital business for all, committed to helping mobile-first Indonesia become a full-fledged digital nation.  Evolving beyond traditional services, IO offers innovative 4Gplus services including ICT security, clou- computing, IoT and digital infrastructure, anchored by its modernised LTE-ready network. This has translated into business success with data-monetisation showing 227.6% YoY growth, data-revenue increasing 46.7% and customers increasing 37% to more than 95 million users.

Chua Sock Koong, CEO, Singtel

Chua, who was recently posted on the list of the 50 most powerful women based outside the US by Fortune, has been at the helm of Singtel’s consumer business, group digital life and group enterprise, including its Australian and international businesses, for nearly a decade. She has grown Singtel into one of Southeast Asia’s biggest telecoms companies.

Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO, Softbank

Founder and chairman of Softbank, Son has seen the company through what can only be described as a year of much negotiation.There has been a re-emergance of rumours surrounding a potential merger between Sprint – for which it is a 80% shareholder – and telecoms giant, Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile US. Softbank is also behind a significant investment fund whic has seen the likes of Apple contribute - the aim is to use the fund to develop significant growth in technology and telecoms.

Hiroo Unoura, president and CEO, NTT

Since his appointment as CEO in 2012, Hiroo Unoura has brought about significant change to NTT. Unoura, born in 1949, has spent his career at NTT, having joined in 1973 and become a senior manager in 1999. Under Unoura’s direction, NTT has continued its drive into high-speed fixed and mobile services with global reach. NTT Com is a giant data centre operator and is increasingly involved in cyber security services. Meanwhile NTT is working with Toshiba on connected cars.

12 operators from Europe

Cesar Alierta, executive chairman, Telefónica

Alierta stepped down from a 16 year tenure as CEO of Telefónica and now is executive chairman of the company. During his time as CEO Alierta has been presented with numerous awards for his contributions in the world of business and enterprise. In addition, is also a member of the board of directors for China Unicom. Back in March the Spanish telco, expanded its portfolio by acquiring UK mobile geolocation data startup Statiq, for a reported $4.2 million.

Sigve Brekke, president and CEO, Telenor

Sigve Brekke is president & CEO of Telenor Group. He previously held the position of EVP and head of region Asia. Telenor says he has been instrumental in building its footprint in the region. He joined Telenor as an advisor following a career in politics, including a stint as State Secretary of Defence in Norway. He later became manager for business development, where he was part of setting the strategy for growth in Asia.

Vittorio Colao, group CEO, Vodafone

As CEO for over nine years, Colao oversees all Vodafone’s operations in 26 markets. In keeping with his commitment to build a digital spine within Europe to support a gigabit society, Vodafone is reportedly in talks with Openreach to co-invest in fibre-to-the-premises. In addition, Vodafone said to be revisiting the option to merge its UK arm with Liberty Global’s Virgin Media, since discussions broke down over a year ago.

Johan Dennelind, president and CEO, Telia

Appointed CEO in June 2013, Johan Dennelind is overseeing the operator’s exit from the Eurasia region, including recent moves that saw it sell of its entire directly owned stake in Turkcell. Telia Company is focusing its efforts on growing its business in its home markets in Sweden and Europe. The operator said that the decision came after carefully considering what was best for its shareholders, operations, employees and customers.

Carl Grivner, CEO, Colt

Carl Grivner was appointed CEO of Colt in January 2016. He joined Colt having spent three years in Singapore as CEO at Pacnet, directing the global strategy of one of Asia’s leading end-to-end communications service providers. This year has seen Colt grow its reputation within the wholesale community, expand the reach of its network and developed its SDN platform.

Tim Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom

Having assumed the position of CEO in 2014, Höttges has led the company through this new era of network virtualisation. From the restructuring of the top management team to include a role specific to technology and innovation, to the spending an approximate €4 billion a year in infrastructure, and has connected an extra three million households in Germany this year alone.

Allison Kirkby, president and group CEO, Tele2

Kirkby has assumed the position of CEO since September 2015, taking over from Mats Granryd who left the role to become director general at GSMA. In January of this year, Tele2 partnered with Vodafone to offer its customers access to a range of Vodafone Global Enterprise services in Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania, making it a member of Vodafone’s Partner Market network. Kirkby recently oversaw the sale of its Austrian unit to Three Austria for €95 million.

Dominique Leroy, CEO, Proximus

Leroy stepped in to take the helm of Proximus – formerly Belgacom – in 2014 for a six-year term. She joined the company in 2012 as executive vice president of its consumer business unit after over two decades at Unilever. Proximus increased its net profit by 3.8% by the end of the year, growing its TV and mobile customers. Leroy is chairwoman of the boards of BICS and Be-Mobile.

Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT

Patterson assumed the role of CEO in 2013 and since then he has seen the company through a number of successes. In June 2017, BT, with its long-term technology partner Huawei, achieved a record breaking 13Tbps over a single fibre. A month later, BT made a proposal to the UK government, which is says it will deliver high-speed broadband to 99% of UK premises by 2020, spending up to £600 million, reaching speeds of at least 10Mbps.

Alejandro Plater, CEO and COO, Telekom Austria

Alejandro Plater took the helm at Telekom Austria Group in March 2015 after Hannes Ametsreiter’s resignation. The CEO’s strategy for the operator is to invest in networks and provide convergence products. His primary focus in the last year has been on investing in its networks globally. By the end of 2018, the group plans to cover more than 70% of all households in Austria with at least 30Mbps.

Stéphane Richard, CEO, Orange

Richard has been CEO of Orange since 2009. In addition to Orange’s ongoing 2020 FTTH initiative, in July 2017 the company expanded its offerings in the content and OTT services space with the launch of a new division called Orange Content. The new division, which came into effect as of September, will build on what the company has developed over the last few years, which is the widest possible distribution of the best content offers on the market and investing in cinema and series through its subsidiaries Orange Cinema Series and Orange Studio.

Kaan Terzioglu, CEO, Turkcell Group

Kaan Terzioglu was appointed Turkcell’s CEO in April 2015. He began his professional life in 1990 as an independent auditor and CPA at Arthur Andersen Turkey. In 1992, Terzioglu joined Arthur Andersen USA as an IT strategies and security specialist, and in 1994, began working at Arthur Andersen Belgium as the leader of information management and digital strategy services. In 1998, he was appointed vice president of Consultancy Services Turkey Operations. 

Three telecoms investors

Patrick Drahi, founder, Altice

Altice recently announced the reorganisation of its group management structure ahead of the closing of the acquisition of Cablevision by Altice USA. Dexter Goei was appointed chairman and CEO of Altice USA but he stepped down as CEO of Altice NV in order to focus his leadership on the successful integration of Cablevision and Suddenlink within Altice and the further development of Altice USA. Patrick Drahi stepped down from his position as president of Altice NV. As founder and controlling shareholder of Altice, he will continue to set out the strategic, operational and technological agenda for the group and will lead the newly formed Altice group advisory council.

John Malone, chairman, Liberty Global

Liberty global spent in excess of €14.5 billion in capital expenditure in order to roll out as much fibre as possible under its GIGAworld initiative. In doing so, the company has created roughly €7 billion in benefits, from productivity benefits from increased output of small businesses to price benefits as a result of Liberty Global’ s increased network competition.  Malone who has been chairman of Liberty Global since 2005, is said to also weighing up further investments for the company with potential acquisitions of Vodafone UK and a further stake in ITV. 

Xavier Niel, founder and CSO, Iliad

Niel’s modest official title disguises the well-known fact that he is the founder of and majority shareholder in Iliad, which runs the market-challenging French operator, Free, and is about to do the same sort of thing in Italy. Iliad was the beneficiary of the Italian regulator’s rules for the merger of Veon’s Wind and CK Hutchison’s Tre Italia – access to spectrum and towers to create a new fourth competitor in the market. So far details are scarce, but the other Italian operators – TIM, Vodafone and Wind Tre – expect a launch in early 2018. 

Four operators from Latin America

Colm Delves, CEO, Digicel

Delves continues to transition Digical from solely a mobile provider to a complete communications and entertainment provider in the Caribbean, Central America and Pacific. In keeping with this mission, Digicel recently launched its 2030 global transformation programme, which aims to deliver a wide scale transformation of its network and services. Though no figure has been disclosed, the programme is set to be an extensive one that will transform its offerings across its various markets.

Eduardo Falzoni, CEO, GlobeNet

GlobeNet operates subsea cables from Latin America to the US. Falzoni was previously CCO of the company, but stepped in as CEO earlier this year, when former chief Erick Contag became chairman. Falzoni has previously worked for Telecom Italia’s wholesale unit Sparkle as well as a stint in marketing at Telecom Argentina.

John Reid, CEO, C&W

John Reid became CEO of Caribbean operator Cable & Wireless in November of last year. As C&W said at the time, Reid, a Canadian national, “is uniquely positioned to take C&W to its next chapter as he has over 28 years of telecommunications and cable television experience, and has spearheaded complex integrations and pioneered a culture of transformation and engagement, first in Canada, and during the past 11 years, across the Caribbean”. Prior to his role as interim CEO of C&W, Reid served as C&W’s President, Consumer Division and was part of the executive leadership team at C&W that achieved in excess of $100m in synergies in less than 18 months following the Columbus transaction.

Carlos Slim, Chairman, América Móvil

With a net worth of more than $50 million, América Móvil CEO Carlos Slim is not just one of the richest men in Latin America, but one of the richest in the world. The last year has been a mixed bag – América Móvil’s stock price has steadied as it boosts spectrum holdings, but it has also faced some regulatory challenges.

Five operators from Middle East

Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat 

Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli became chief executive of the Etisalat Group after a four-year stint running the group’s UAE operations. Born in 1963, Al Abdooli joined Etisalat in 1992 after completing his master’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Colorado at Boulder in the US. From 2007 to 2012, Al Abdooli was the CEO of Etisalat Egypt. He also led Etisalat’s UAE operations from 2012 until 2016, before his current post as group chief executive.

Muna Al Hashemi, CEO, Batelco

Batelco CEO Muna Al Hashemi officially took her new role in August 2015 having served as acting CEO for seven months. Al Hashemi continues operator’s drive to deployment of next-generation technologies. Her appointment marked the first time a woman held a CEO position in Bahrain’s telecoms industry.

Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, CEO, Ooredoo Group

As Group CEO, Sheikh Saud has been instrumental in leading Ooredoo to deliver an unsurpassed data experience across its footprint, helping customers enjoy the internet. Ooredoo’s world-class networks today offer 4G+ and 5G-ready services. His emphasis on diversifying Ooredoo’s business to achieve growth and development has supported the emergence of new revenue streams from both consumers and enterprise customers, with data revenues increasing to 44% of group revenues in the first half of 2017. Equally, the company’s customer base has grown by 14% year-on-year, to reach nearly 150 million users, with revenues also increasing to $4.4 billion. Under Al Thani’s direction, Ooredoo has kept ahead of the curve in evolving its offering, continuing to help deliver an enriched digital experience and leverage digital technology to improve people’s lives.

Khaled Hussain Biyari, CEO, STC Group

Khaled Bin Hussain S Biyari has been Group chief executive officer of Saudi Telecom Company since April 2015. Biyari served as senior vice president of technology and operations of Saudi Telecom Company (STC Group) from May 2013 to April 2015 and served as its COO from January 2015 to April 2015. Prior to joining STC, he served as the senior vice president and general manager of Advanced Electronics Company.

Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain

Serving as Group CEO since December 2012, Scott Gegenheimer has spearheaded Zain’s international expansion across the Middle East and Africa. The company has invested heavily in network upgrades, rolling out 4G in several key markets and has enabled Zain to grow its data revenues impressively, which were in excess of $4bn in 2015. Gegenheimer also sits on the board of Zain Saudi Arabia and Inwi in Morocco.

Eight operators from North America

Marcelo Claure, CEO, Sprint

Claure was appointed as CEO of Sprint in August 2014, in May of this year he was added to the board of directors at SoftBank, which owns an 80% share of Sprint. In addition, he currently sits on the board of directors for the Wireless Association (CTIA) and prior to his joining the Sprint/SoftBank family, he also cofounded Brightstar, the wireless distribution and services provider.

George Cope, CEO, Bell Canada

George Cope is leading the transformation of Canada’s largest communications company into the nation’s broadband leader, with a strategy of unparalleled investment in advanced networks, innovative communications and media services, and an improved customer experience. Bell is focussed on building Canada’s next-generation broadband infrastructure and driving growth in wireless, TV, internet and media while delivering sustainable returns to shareholders.

John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, technology and operations, AT&T

John Donovan has been with AT&T since 2008 and is widely credited with driving the US operator’s move to virtualise its network. In July, however, is role shifted slightly, as he was officially named CEO of AT&T Communications as part of its $84 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The restructure was one of the largest seen at the firm since Ma Bell was broken apart, and will see Donovan play a key role leading the carrier’s traditional phone business.

Darren Entwistle, president and CEO, Telus

Entwistle left the position of CEO back in 2014, returning to the role in 2015. Since then the company has announced a number of strategic partnerships including the successful trials it recently completed with Huawei, piloting 5G wireless technology. The result was that the two managed to achieve speeds of 200 times faster than current LTE networks. Also the company announced its plans to expand its fixed and mobile infrastructure in the province of Alberta, investing approximately $4.2 billion by the year 2020. 

John Legere, CEO, T-Mobile US

Having assumed the position of CEO in 2012, Legere has led the company through an unprecedented year of growth. T-Mobile amassed 8 million customers and won most of the spectrum in this year’s wireless auction back in April. The company is currently being linkined with a merger with SoftBank’s Sprint, but it is testament to Legere’s efforst that TMo would now be the senior partner in any tie-up.

Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications

McAdam has been at the helm of Verizon for 17 years and has been responsible for leading the company through a pivotal time in the wireless technology sector. Aside from Verizon’s much talked about $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo, he most recently commented on the future roadmap for the company. As far as McAdam’s is concerned, Verizon is not interested in merging with cable companies because it wants to build its own infrastructure in preparation for 5G.

Glen Post, CEO and president, CenturyLink

With over 20 years in the role of CEO at Centurylink, Glen Post is now steering the company through one of the most talked about mergers in the telecoms industry – its acquisition of Level 3 Communications. The much watched deal, for a reported $34 billion, will see Post combine the two companies together to become a global player in telecommunications industry, while in the process creating somewhere near $1 billion worth of synergies.

Randall Stephenson, Chairman, CEO and president, AT&T 

There was a bit of a hoo-ha earlier this year when a report emerged that AT&T, once it completes its acquisition of Time Warner, would restructure, and Randall Stephenson, head of AT&T for more than decade, would no longer be CEO. Turns out he is staying as CEO, but Stephenson’s role at the world’s biggest telco by revenue will change to one overseeing overall strategy. He will remain the top dog at one of the world’s biggest media organisations though.

Four operators from Russia and CIS

Jean-Yves Charlier, CEO, Veon

In keeping with his promise to transform the company into a digital operator; rather than let it become just a dumb pipe, Charlier has overseen a complete rebranding of the company transitioning it from VimpelCom to Veon. The rebranding was more than a name change and ushered in Veon as a completely new global tech company beginning with the launch of a new mobile internet platform. Charlier assumed the role of CEO in April 2015 and has brought to it an innovative vision for the future. 

Andrei Dubovskov, president and chairman, MTS

Under leadership of Dubovskov MTS demonstrates the best dynamic of key performance indicators. MTS is the steady leader among Russian mobile operators in terms of absolute figures on revenue, OIBDA and subscribers. Penetration of financial services in MTS mobile subscriber base is 20%. In 2016 year LTE traffic rose more than twice. By the end of 2Q 2017 LTE network cover 50% of the total population of Russia. MTS continues accelerate data consumption through stimulating customers migrating to smartphones, whose penetration in all mobile phone exceeded 60% and data tariff plan penetration was 42%.

Sergey Kalugin, president, Rostelecom

Rostelecom named cable entrepreneur Sergey Kalugin to lead the company in March 2013, replacing Alexander Provotorov as president. The company plans to invest RUB 300bn in network virtualisation. Kalugin was also recently incorporated into the supervisory board of the state-owned space corporation Roskosmos.

Sergey Soldatenkov, CEO, MegaFon

Sergey Soldatenkov has been Member of the Company’s Board since May 2012 (since June 2012 till April 2016 – chairman of the board). He was the company’s chief executive officer from April 2003 to April 2012. Soldatenkov became CEO once again after the resignation of Ivan Tavrin, effective April 29 2016, was accepted by its board.

Twelve equipment vendors

Dan Caruso, chairman and CEO, Zayo

A founder of the company in 2007, Dan Caruso transformed Zayo from a humble start-up to its IPO. Zayo has won a contract to expand and upgrade a wireless operator’s fibre to the tower network, extending its dark fibre facilities to over 1,800 cell sites in 26 markets. Zayo reported its last fiscal Q4 dark fibre solutions revenues were up 8.6% from last year.

Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

Though Apple has recently slipped to become the third biggest smartphone-maker in the world (behind Huawei and Samsung), it has been an important year for the iPhone-maker. Celebrating a decade since it first launched the iPhone, causing a major shift in the mobile market, it recently launched the iPhone X. Tim Cook has been CEO for six of those years, taking over from founder Steve Jobs in 2011, and the company has gone from strength to strength

Börje Ekholm, president and CEO, Ericsson

Who would be the CEO of Ericsson right now? The company has been struggling financially due to market pressures, and after the sacking of Hans Vestberg last year, Ekholm assumed this role in January, 2017. Ekholm instantly set out his stall – simplify Ericsson’s offering by focusing on three key markets: network cloud cloud infrastructure, and OSS and BSS. It remains to be seen whether this will see Ericsson return to the top of the vendor game. 

Andreas Hipp, CEO, Cataleya 

Hipp is one of the most inspiring executives in our industry and embodies the true essence of entrepreneurship and passion. Having founded and led Epsilon to great success, he is now again building innovative solutions that will facilitate our industry’s transformation.He recently founded Incipio, a start-up accelerator through which he promotes entrepreneurship from a broader perspective - keeping human and society in mind and not just financial outcomes.Through this new initiative, he has put skin in the game in four promising start-ups, either as a board member or chairman and CEO: Cataleya, Cirrus Core Networks, Teragence and Resolver. He is one of the few leaders who demonstrates what is possible.

Lee Jae-Yong, vice chairman, Samsung

Lee Jae-Yong, also known as Jay Y Lee, is vice chairman of Samsung Group, who has served as its de facto head since his father, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, was struck by a heart attack in 2014. The younger Lee was widely seen as the heir to the Samsung crown built by his grandfather, but was sentenced to five years in jail earlier this year over corruption charges. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on Lee, and Samsung’s, future.

Rami Rahim, CEO, Juniper Networks

Rahim was employee number 32 of Juniper Networks, back in 1997, as an engineer on its core router, and became CEO in November 2014, after spending time as executive vice president and general manager of Juniper’s development and innovation organisation, overseeing the product and technology portfolio. Now he’s pushing the company into the world of virtualisation.

Ren Zhengfei, founder and president, Huawei

Ren Zhengfei set up Huawei in 1987, selling telephone exchange kit imported from Hong Kong. Since then the company has grown to compete directly with Ericsson as one of the world’s two biggest equipment vendors. Like its rival ZTE, the US is still excluded from its network equipment business. This year the company saw its handset division surpass Apple to become the second largest smartphone-maker in the world (behind Samsung) while it continued to increase market share in the hardware division.

Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco 

Chuck Robbins took over the role as CEO from John Chambers in 2015, and now is set to become executive chairman when Chambers steps down from that role in December. Robbins has more than 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles, and has spent the last 19 years with Cisco, driving many of the companiy’s strategies in investment, sales, and commercial.

Gary Smith, CEO, Ciena

A tenured CEO, Smith has led Ciena to become a multi-billion-dollar global company. 2017 was full of mergers and acquisitions within the telecom industry, and through this tumultuous time Smith has steered Ciena into its seventh year of growing faster than the market. Throughout Smith’s tenure, the company has made strategic acquisitions to diversify Ciena’s portfolio into different markets, including the acquisition of Cyan in 2015, which strengthened Ciena’s software portfolio and ability to help virtualize service provider networks. As the longest-standing telecom vendor CEO, Smith has taken substantial, calculated risks. Recently, he made the decision to expand Ciena’s addressable market by making its coveted WaveLogic AI technology available to third party component suppliers.

Thomas Stanton, CEO, Adtran

Tom Stanton was named Adtran’s CEO in September 2005 and named Chairman of the Board in 2007. Stanton joined Adtran in 1995 as vice president of marketing for the carrier networks division. Since that time, he has held a number of senior management positions within the company including senior vice president and general manager of the carrier networks division. As a leader, Stanton places great importance on providing an open forum for employees to communicate and be heard, and values continuous corporate education and an interactive company culture to keep employees connected.

Rajeev Suri, CEO, Nokia

As president and CEO at Nokia, Suri has been integral in steering the company to become a leader in the global telecommunications infrastructure market. Suri has led Nokia through the €15.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, pioneered its entry into digital health and digital media, and recently, initiated the return of Nokia branded smartphones through a brand licensing deal. Previously, he transformed a loss-making Nokia Networks joint venture into a focused and profitable mobile broadband and services business. With 27 years of global experience, Suri has a ceaseless passion for creating value and delivering technologies that transform the way people live. A true global leader, he contributes to the UN Broadband Commission, B20 task force on digitalisation, and the World Economic Forum.

Yin Yimin, chairman, ZTE

Yin, born in 1963, was the chairman of ZTE Holdings, the controlling shareholder of ZTE Corp, since 2015 and served as ZTE Corp’s president from 2004 to 2010, before stepping in as chairman earlier this year, following the resignation of predecessor Zhao Xianming. Zhao continued as president but quit as chairman after the Chinese vendor pleaded guilty to US sanctions imposed of breaches of trade restrictions.

Nine from OTT and services

Daniel Ek, CEO, Spotify

The music streaming business has grown hugely in recent years, but it has proven difficult for companies to monetise. Ek will be hoping ad revenues will be the answer, as the online music streaming platform saw a 53% increase in ad revenue in the first quarter of 2015. Spotify now has 40 million paid subscribers, up from 30 million six months ago. The music streamer also has about 70 million additional users of its free ad-supported service. The news came in a tweet from Ek. These are testing times for Spotify which now also faces competition from the likes of Apple Music and Deezer and while it may have 40 million subscribers the question is how many of them pay top dollar.

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO, Netflix

Hastings has enjoyed a remarkable career to date which has seen the company develop from a mail-order DVD rental company to a truly international streaming business. Hastings has continued the company’s rapid international expansion this year by making its debut in Asia. Hastings controversially stepped into the US presidential race this year, saying: “Trump would destroy much of what is great about America. Hillary Clinton is the strong leader we need, and it’s important that Trump lose by a landslide to reject what he stands for.” Hastings has predicted that in the next 10 to 20 years, all TV will be on the internet. If he’s correct, Netflix would appear to be one of the main beneficiaries.

Robin Li, founder, Baidu

Li is the co-founder, chairman and chief executive at China’s answer to Google, Baidu. Baidu, China’s largest search engine, it was the slowest of China’s “big three” tech companies to create an interconnected “ecosystem” of mobile apps. Its revenue growth has lagged behind that of e-commerce group Alibaba and Tencent, but now the firm seems to have bet its future on becoming the hegemony of AI in the APAC region.

Niall Norton, CEO, Openet

Under CEO Norton’s steer since 2007, Openet has become the leading independent digital BSS provider and Ireland’s largest indigenous software company. With traditional BSS no longer fit for purpose, Norton is positioning Openet on the path to disruption - on a mission to rid the market of big vendor “lock in”.  Last year, Norton invested heavily (18% of revenues) in automated networks, virtualisation and cloud technologies so that Openet “walks the walk” when it comes to enabling telcos to develop new revenues and increase the speed at which they do business. This agile approach has won several major deals with Orange, América Móvil and Bell Canada, and other leading mobile operators in EMEA, CALA, APAC, and North America.

Brendan Gill, CEO, OpenSignal

Gill leads a company pioneering the cutting edge of mobile industry analysis. Seven years ago, after he and his co-founders experienced frustration finding good mobile connections, they created an app to crowdsource mobile network measurements – a revolutionary concept at a time when the industry used a ‘test-style’ data collection method.  Instead of approximating network performance with test gear, an operator-centric technique, OpenSignal’s method measures users’ actual mobile experience, a consumer-centric technique. Today, with over 20 million app downloads on consumer devices globally, OpenSignal is the recognised independent global standard for analysis of on-device mobile experience -- trusted by operators, regulators, analysts, consumer groups, and research institutions to make key business and policy decisions.

Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

Pichai assumed the role of CEO of Google in 2015, succeeding former CEO Larry Page who went on to head up Google parent company Alphabet. Pichai joined the company in 2004 as vice president of product marketing, during that period he ushered in the advent of Gmail, Google Maps and Chrome OS. From there he quickly moved in the role product chief in October 2014. In July of this year Pichai was named as a member of Alphabet’s board, joining the company’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as its chairman Eric Schmidt. 

John Stankey, senior EVP AT&T/Time Warner, AT&T 

With AT&T on the verge of completing one of the biggest acquisitions in telecoms history, the $84 billion buy of Time Warner, one man has been tasked with the unenviable task of integrating the giants – Stankey. He previously served as CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group which provides entertainment and communications experiences for more than 100 million TV, mobile and broadband subscribers. Stankey was named to that position after leading the company’s acquisition of DirecTV in 2015, when he was AT&T’s chief strategy officer, responsible for the company’s corporate strategy, M&A, and business development initiatives.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube

Wojcicki moved from SVP of advertising and commerce at Google to CEO of YouTube in February 2014, having championed the company’s $1.65bn acquisition of the video site. The site has continued to go from strength-to-strength, attracting a billion unique visitors a month while recording revenues of $4bn in 2014. In October 2015, YouTube launched a new subscription service called YouTube Red to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, Facebook

As the well-known founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest social networking sites Zuckerberg has been at the helm of the organisation since its inception in 2004. Having recently hit an average of 2 billion users a month, Facebook has now officially cemented itself as the largest social app in terms of logged-in users. According to it 2017 Q2 results, the company reached $9.2 billion revenue with an increase of 44.7%, while profits hit $3.8 billion in Q2, up 71% year-over-year.

Six from regulatory & industry bodies

Nan Chen, president, MEF

Chen is a prominent figurehead throughout the carrier Ethernet revolution as well as a pioneer of the Carrier Ethernet exchange. As founder of MEF, he has established Carrier Ethernet as the predominant technology for businesses and mobile infrastructure, defining industry standards and creating certification programmes. As co-founder of CENX, the first Carrier Ethernet exchange in the market, he played a significant role in establishing Carrier Ethernet exchanges worldwide.

Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA

After his five-year term as CEO at Tele2, Mats Granryd took on the reins at GSMA as director general in January 2016, succeeding Anne Bouverot who has moved to head French security firm Morpho. During his tenure at Tele2, Granryd has trimmed down the company’s operations from 24 countries to nine as well as focussed his efforts on value for money and customer service, which has contributed to the operator’s steady growth and reduction in customer churn.

Heather Kirksey, director, OpenNFV

As executive director of Open Platform for NFV, Kirksey seeks to increase adoption and implementation of open source NFV platform. She manages the entire project, from technology to community and marketing. She previously led strategic technology alliances for MongoDB and has held various leadership positions at Alcatel-Lucent, Broadband Forum, BroadbandHome, Small Cell Forum, UPnP Forum and Home Gateway Initiative.

Ajit Pai, chairman, FCC

When Ajit Pai took control of the Federal Communications back in January, the industry looked set to celebrate. Most of the major US telcos oppose his predecessor’s legislation around net neutrality and Pai wasn’t a fan either. Since then, he’s gone about rolling back the net neutrality rules and undoing some of Tom Wheeler’s work in the sector. Pai, who has sat on the FCC board since 2012, looks set to continue shaking up the US market.

Margrethe Vestager, commissioner for competition, European Commission

Since her appointment as the EU’s competition commissioner in 2014, Vestager has taken the fight to some of the world’s largest companies, bringing antitrust charges against the likes of Google and Apple. The Danish politician has consistently touted fair play and opportunity for all as the bedrock of all her decisions. She previously served as a member of the Danish Parliament, education minister, economy minister and deputy prime minister. Vestager has taken on a reputation as being anti-consolidation, having turned down mergers between Three UK and O2, and imposed strict requirements on Telia (then TeliaSonera) and Telenor’s Danish merger, leading the companies to cancel it. However, Vestager did approve recent mergers in Italy, claiming she is more concerned with protecting competition.

Sharon White, CEO, Ofcom

White was appointed chief of the UK media regulator after two years as second permanent secretary at HM Treasury. She is the first black person and first woman to be appointed to the role. Her position will come under greater focus following Brexit. White has said domestic regulators will play a bigger role in vetting deals as powers come back from the EU. Major upcoming challenges for White include enacting the seperation of Openreach from BT, numerous spectrum auctions, and the implication of the EU roaming rules, not to mention Brexit and how that might impact the market.

Six from subsea & data centres

Bill Barney, co-CEO, GCX/RCom

Barney not only has the top role within Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) but also shares the role of co-CEO of Reliance Communications (RCom) with Gurdeep Singh. However Barney and Singh’s job-share is likely to change soon with the expected completion of the merger of RCom and Aircel: no one officially knows how, though. Barney looks after RCom’s enterprise and long-distance operations in India. Under Barney’s leadership, GCX – formerly Reliance Globalcom – has expanded its content and cloud delivery platforms and further moves are expected before the year end.

Rick Calder, president and CEO, GTT

Rick Calder is president and CEO of GTT Communications, a leading telecommunications challenger brand that delivers services in 100+ countries to 6,600+ clients. Under Calder’s leadership, GTT has grown rapidly year-over-year, across revenue, infrastructure and services. Recent accomplishments include: Q2 2017 revenue of $186.2million, an increase of 44.4% YoY; GTT’s largest acquisition to date – Hibernia Networks – in January 2017, which added optical and video services, as well as fiber assets, including the world’s fastest transatlantic route; significant organic growth of GTT’s cloud networking portfolio with the launch of two key services: DDoS mitigation and managed SD-WAN; Awarded numerous accolades including CEO of the Year by the American and International Stevie Awards and Leading Lights Company of the Year.

Amr Eid, CEO, GBI

In a very short span of time, Amr Eid has steered GBI on a spiral growth leading the organisation’s transformation from a subsea cable system into a global managed service cloud provider, serving international carriers and enterprises. He has successfully navigated the establishment of GBI as the OTT for the subsea cable industry in the Middle East. Under his leadership, GBI has been repositioned as a progressive entity that is reshaping the region’s telecommunications landscape by pushing the envelope of innovation. Eid has successfully spearheaded GBI’s vertical and horizontal expansion along with the forging of strategic global partnerships.

Larry Schwartz, CEO, Seaborn

Schwartz is chairman and CEO of Seaborn Networks.  Schwartz pioneered developer-owner-operator model for submarine fiber optic cable systems; a model that’s been used in other infrastructure sectors, but that was largely unknown in the telecom world.That approach is evidenced from Seaborn’s Seabras-1 system, a NY–São Paulo cable that Seaborn developed and now operates, and that Seaborn co-owns with Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager. With Seabras-1 now built, Seaborn is rumored to be in the hunt for M&A opportunities of existing submarine cable networks around the world as well as actively developing other new-build systems.

John Sheputis, president, Infomart Data Centers

Under Sheputis’ leadership, Infomart has become a change-agent, constantly re-engineering design-build techniques and adopting energy-efficient technologies to enable innovation and choice within its data centers.  He is implementing a number of initiatives and collaborating with both customers and vendors to change the industry’s views on sustainability and drive environmentally-conscious decisions. John believes that openness and transparency are the prerequisites to innovation. He makes business decisions based on openness and collaboration with customers, partners, and vendors.

Chris Wood, CEO, WIOCC

Under Wood’s inspirational leadership, WIOCC has become the leading supplier of seamless, end-to-end bandwidth solutions into and out of Africa – working hand-in-hand with global and African telcos and Internet service providers, over-the-top players and content providers on delivering their visions for Africa. Committed to making an enduring contribution to African communications, Wood has been central to the transformation of Africa’s connectivity landscape - helping drive demand for network/service improvement initiatives that are bringing the benefits of the internet to an ever-greater number of people in ever-more countries.

Three from satellite

Rodolphe Belmer, CEO, Eutelsat

Eutelsat’s fleet of satellites covers Europe, Africa, the Middle East and large parts of the Asia and the Americas. Michael de Rosen was CEO of Eutelsat from November 2009 but was replaced by Belmer last year. After graduating from HEC in 1992, he began his career in the marketing department of Procter & Gamble France before joining McKinsey in 1998. In 2001, he joined Groupe Canal where he was appointed as head of marketing and strategy in 2002.

Stephen Spengler, CEO, Intelsat

Intelsat is the daddy of all the satellite companies, having been formed as an intergovernmental organisation in 1964, with the first satellite going into orbit a year later. Spengler, CEO since April 2015, has been in the industry for three of those five decades, and the company has launched its a number of satellites, most notably across the Epic range, which provides high throughput connectivity to several continents across the globe.

Greg Wyler, founder and executive chairman, OneWeb

Wyler founded OneWeb in 2012 with the stated aim of enabling internet access for everyone via a fleet of low-orbit satellites. Five years earlier he had founded O3b Networks, now owned by SES. With $1 billion of backing of its biggest shareholder, SoftBank of Japan, OneWeb plans a fleet of 720 satellites. The company came close to taking over industry veteran Intelsat but the plan was dropped this year after opposition from the holders of $15 billion worth of Intelsat bonds. Wyler is said to be looking for another partner from the old satellite world.

Six from software vendors

Kelly Ahuja, CEO, Versa Networks

Kelly Ahuja is a seasoned industry veteran with 25 years of experience in networking and telecommunications. He spent 18 years at Cisco building and leading multiple businesses, most recently as SVP of service provider business, products and solutions. In his career, Ahuja has partnered with service providers globally to design, deploy and operate large scale frame relay, ATM, IP and mobile (3G,4G,Wifi) networks. Today, he is in the midst of the largest transformation in the industry with software-defined networking (SDN). He is leading Versa, a leader in software defined networking and security to transform how Service Providers build, deploy and operate their networks and services.  He also serves on the board of directors for two startups in Silicon Valley.

Safra Catz, co-CEO, Oracle

An 18-year Oracle veteran, Catz has served as co-CEO since September 2014. She is chief executor of the company’s merger and acquisition strategy, helping close over 85 acquisitions over the past five years - one of which was a deal for cloud-based software company NetSuite for over $9 billion. Catz sat on the executive committee of US president Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. She is also reportedly one of Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s closest confidants, having spent 18 years at the company.

Eli Gelman, president and CEO, Amdocs

Gelman continues to lead Amdocs into new strategic directions. This year, Amdocs launched the industry’s first carrier-grade NFV solution, helping operators such as AT&T, Bell Canada and Orange on their Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) journey. It also launched aia, the industry’s first telco-specific intelligence platform, and worked with leading North American Pay-TV providers to modernize their systems.

Catherine Michel, CTO, Sigma Systems

Michel is one of the industry’s leading voices on digital transformation and regularly advises CXOs on how to thrive in the digital economy. She often features at major industry conferences (TM Forum, BCN Latam, MWC) and in key publications (GTB, Pipeline, CIO Review) discussing the topic. Michel sits on the TM Forum executive committee, driving strategy and change in the industry.  She was named in the 50 Women to Watch 2017 by GTB – the only CTO on the list.  Michel is a public advocate and mentor for women in IT.  As CTO, Michel is responsible for Sigma’s product and technology strategy and drives all major innovations into the portfolio, most recently around machine learning with intelligent data mining and analytics enablement.

Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

Nadella took over at Microsoft as its CEO in February 2014, since then Nadella has been praised with shifting not only the company’s commercial performance but its working culture. Most recently Microsoft partnered with Ericsson to launch a joint IoT initiative allowing enterprises to deploy IoT services with Microsoft Azure cloud services by linking to it through the Ericsson IoT accelerator. In August of this year, the company acquired Cycle Computing, a provider of cloud computing orchestration software for Big Compute and Big Data.

Abidali Neemuchwala, CEO, Wipro

Neemuchwala is the CEO and a member of the board of Wipro. Previously as COO, he spearheaded several initiatives across global infrastructure services, business application services, business process services, and analytics to create a more nimble and agile organization. These measures helped accelerate Wipro’s ability to respond to customers and ensured deeper employee engagement. His career spans a 23-year tenure in TCS, where he handled multiple roles in business, technology, sales, operations and consulting.

Ginni Rometty, chairwomen, president and CEO, IBM

Ginni Rometty has led IBM since 2011 after spending time as senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy. She joined in 1981 as a systems engineer, so saw the company’s near-death experience in the late 1980s. In 2014 she announced an expansion of its data centre and cloud storage business, but sales have been flat and she is quoted as saying IBM has “to reinvent ourselves like we’ve done in prior generations”.

David Walsh, chairman and CEO, Genband/Kandy

Digital disruption is the new normal and for three decades Walsh’s mission has been to empower the telecom industry to thrive in this constantly changing environment. During a career spanning both telecom and finance, he has demonstrated an innate understanding of technology and of how what’s next will impact both our personal and professional. As chairman and CEO of Genband, Walsh has focused on delivering industry-leading network transformation and cloud-based CPaaS solutions to provide communications service providers with the options today’s demanding environment requires. Finally, as one of the key architects of the upcoming Genband-Sonus merger, he continues to execute on his vision of a vibrant, innovative industry.

Meg Whitman, president and CEO, HPE

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman became CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 2011 and led the bold move to split the company into two. Following the split, she is president and CEO of HPE, which is responsible for enterprise computer infrastructure, software, cloud and services businesses – including NFV/SDN-based products for the telecoms industry. It expects annual revenue of more than $50 billion. However, she is also chair of HP Inc, the other half of the post-split company, which continues to make PCs and printers.