Top 10 movers in wholesale telecoms

The right appointment at the right moment can lead to a remarkable change in fortune for a company. Capacity looks at the top 10 moves in wholesale telecoms over the last 12 months which could pay off.



Gee Rittenhouse

Appointed: CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs on February 18 2013

Previous Experience: Internal protege, who has been at Bells Labs since joining as a member of technical staff in 1993. He has held positions such as director of the wireless technology research department and VP of Bell Labs Wireless Research, as well as leading several projects including MIMO system development, cellular network optimisation, wireless IP networks and fourth generation wireless systems. 

Impact:  Rittenhouse took the reins of Bell Labs during a period of boardroom turmoil at Alcatel-Lucent, which saw former CEO Ben Verwaayen leave the company just four days after Rittenhouse's promotion. technology provider will be crucial as it attempts to address declining revenues, recording a net loss of €1.37 billion in 2012. Awarded the Bell Labs Fellow Award in 2002, one of the highest honours in the company that recognised his "sustained research and development contributions", Rittenhouse appears to have all the credentials to drive the company's R&D department forward. There have already been some promising signs, with the company stealing a lead on its rivals with 400G by holding two successful trials since February, with France Telecom-Orange in France and Shaw Communications in Canada respectively. 



Mohamed El-Nawawy

Appointed: CEO of Telecom Egypt on August 2012

Previous Experience: El-Nawawy previously served as Telecom Egypt's VP of international wholesale, and more recently as SVP and chief strategy officer, but continued to head up its submarine cable division. 

Impact:  It is rare to find the figurehead of a company the size of Telecom Egypt with such a strong past in wholesale. El-Nawawy's appointment was part of a management reshuffle following the end of Hosni Mubarak's 30-year tenure as leader of the country. Egypt, of course, is home to one of the most important fibre optic corridors in the world, and El-Nawawy is tasked with trying to restore industry confidence in the route, particularly as a series of terrestrial projects aimed at bypassing the country are said to be approaching completion this year.  


Tom Leighton

Appointed: CEO of Akamai on January 1 2013

Previous Experience: Academic whizz. Co-founded Akamai Technologies in 1998, and served as its chief scientist for 14 years. He is also a Professor of Applied Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).  

Impact:  Described as one of the world's preeminent authorities on algorithms for network applications, Dr Leighton began the year by becoming CEO at the company he co-founded some 12 years earlier. He took the helm during a significant period for Akamai, with the company having completed its acquisition of Verivue in a bid to speed up the time to market for its licensed CDN solution, and entered into a strategic alliance with US giant AT&T. The CDN provider has continued its impressive ascent under Leighton, announcing this March that it expects first quarter revenue in the range of $352 to $362 million. It also signed a CDN agreement with South Korean operator KT in March, further enhancing its global reach. With his vision and deep understanding of technology, Dr Leighton could help Akamai keep its lead in the CDN space. 



Myat Hein

Appointed: Myanmar's minister of communications and information technology on February 13 2013

Previous Experience: Comes from a military background. Hein previously served as air force general commander-in-chief.  

Impact:  Hein is the man responsible for the launch of Myanmar's highly anticipated mobile licence auction later this year, at a time of critical political reform for the country. Investigations into corruption have so far seen eight people arrested as the country deals with widespread poverty, as well as ethnic and religious conflict. Myanmar opened its telecoms market internationally in January this year and its mobile auction became open for bidding in April. 


Eva Castillo

Appointed: CEO of Telefonica Europe on September 17 2012

Previous Experience: Comes to the role with a distinguished career in the financial services sector.  

Impact:  Castillo has spearheaded the company's drive towards innovation and technology, acquiring TokBox and partnering with Microsoft's IPTV video company Mediaroom. Telefonica's 2012 financial reports showed that its Latin America arm had overtaken the European business for the first time in terms of revenue, presenting Castillo with a considerable challenge. However, under her guidance, Telefonica's Spanish tariff Movistar Fusion has helped improve the operator's overall market share, leading Telefonica Europe to grow its customer base for the first time since March 2011. 



Stephane Roussel

Appointed: President and CEO of SFR in June 2012

Previous Experience: Roussel served as MD of human resources at SFR before being promoted to director of HR for Vivendi, SFR's owners.  

Impact:  Roussel heads up France's second largest operator during a tumultuous time in the French mobile market. Low cost operator Free Mobile, spearheaded by Xavier Niel, has disrupted the market and stolen a sizeable chunk of the total number of French consumers. SFR responded by launching its 4G network early, rolling out services in Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse in the first half of 2013. With rumours of Vivendi looking to demerge SFR in an effort to restructure debts, Roussel will require all his people management skills to maintain SFR's market position.  


Timothy Chen

Appointed: President and group MD at Telstra International on November 5 2013

Previous Experience: Industry veteran with a wealth of experience in C-level positions throughout his career.  

Impact: Chen's appointment followed his initial resignation from the Telstra board after just six months, having only attended five meetings. He returned to the company following the departure of previous managing director Tarek Robbiati, and is now the first ever Chinese national to hold a senior leadership position at Telstra. Since his appointment, Telstra has made considerable progression towards expanding its network reach in the Asia-Pacific region. In March 2013, Telstra became the first company in the Asia-Pacific region to achieve international Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) certification. Later that month, the company also signed an agreement with SubPartners to acquire capacity on the Perth to Singapore section of the APX West submarine cable.  



John Legere

Appointed: CEO of T-Mobile USA on September 19 2012

Previous Experience: Another industry veteran, Legere is the former CEO of Global Crossing.  

Impact: Following AT&T's failed attempt to takeover T-Mobile USA in 2011, which was infamously blocked on anticompetitive grounds by the US authorities, the US arm of T-Mobile has had to seriously rethink how it can remain competitive in the US market against the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. One of Deutsche Telekom's solutions was to appoint Legere as CEO in September 2012, with the parent company's CEO Rene Obermann stating at the time that Legere possessed the "skillset to lead the business into the future". Another was to enter into an agreement to combine T-Mobile USA with smaller rival MetroPCS. Although the deal is still subject to approval by MetroPCS shareholders, the potential acquisition is reportedly part of Deutsche Telekom's wider strategy to increase T-Mobile USA's presence in the market. 


Khalifa Al Shamsi

Appointed: Chief digital services officer at Etisalat Group on May 20 2012

Previous Experience: Shamsi joined as a graduate trainee and has been with Etisalat for over two decades.  

Impact: Shortly after Shamsi's promotion, Etisalat established a digital services agreement with Telefonica to collaborate across a range of digital services. Supporting web company Mozilla, the partnership aims to develop a mobile operating system to compete with dominant players Google and Apple. It also aimed to share technical and platform knowledge and co-operate in international M2M roaming.   



Carl Grivner

Appointed: CEO of Pacnet on 16 July 2012

Previous Experience: Another industry veteran. Former COO of Global Crossing and former CEO of XO Communications, Eaglebrook Partners, Worldport Communications and Cable & Wireless (Western Hemisphere).  

Impact: It came as a major surprise to the industry when Bill Barney left his position as CEO of Pacnet with immediate effect on May 23 2012. Barney had held the CEO position at both Pacnet and predecessor Asia Netcom for over a decade. However, by mid July, Pacnet had moved to appoint Carl Grivner as CEO, stating that it was looking to capitalise on the rapid growth in demand for network, data centre and CDN services in Asia. The industry veteran arrived with a strong reputation for delivering results, having grown revenues by over 50% to $1.5 billion during his tenure at XO Communications through a broadband and data IP strategy, which turned the company from a local exchange to a national carrier. Grivner has already enforced a streamline strategy at Pacnet, aimed at increasing its growth and profitability. The company has since moved to expand its IP VPN footprint in China, while it has also opened a data centre in Tianjin and two CDN PoPs in Guangzhou and Tangshan. With Pacnet embarking on its new strategy with   pressive gusto already in 2013, it could be a positive year all round for both the company and its CEO. 

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