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Changing of the guard: Elisabetta Romano becomes the new GLF chair

Elisabetta-Romano-Sparkle.jpg

The board of the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), a network of leaders from the world’s largest international ICT service providers, has named Elisabetta Romano, CEO of Telecom Italia Sparkle, as its new chair.

"I began working as a software developer holding other technical roles with increasing responsibility in Italy, Sweden, Belgium and in the Silicon Valley," said Romano. "Now I consider it a privilege having the opportunity to contribute to the sector development and transformation from a different angle."

The appointment was confirmed during International Telecoms Week 2022. Romano has over thirty years of experience in the ICT industry across the telecoms, it and media sectors and takes up the role having served as CEO of Telecom Italia Sparkle since 2020. Before that, she served as the group’s chief innovation and partnership officer.

“On behalf of the GLF board members and wider GLF community, I would like to thank Elisabetta for taking on this role,” said Annabel Helm, director of the GLF and GLF Community.

“The industry is at an inflection point and the actions and collaborative work undertaken within the GLF will play an increasingly important role in unlocking growth opportunities and building an effective ecosystem engagement strategy."

"Elisabetta’s experience working with different market segments and technologies in various leadership roles throughout her career will be a huge asset to the GLF and our work on behalf of our members.”

Romano said: “It is a great honour being elected as chair of this prestigious association.”

“As a member of the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum, over the last few years I have appreciated and fully shared the principles that drive its activity and the extraordinary work done in promoting development and transformation in an industry where ‘coopetition’ is key.”

Coopetition, the portmanteau of cooperation and competition, “characterises our industry”, Romano says.

Romano succeeds outgoing GLF chair Laurinda Pang, president of global customer success, wholesale and international at Lumen Technologies, who has held the role since 2020, seeing the organisation through one of the biggest global crises in decades.

Over her two-year term, Pang led the GLF in its work with world governments to classify telecoms infrastructure, communications services and their related workforces, as essential during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on her departure, Pang said, “I’ll always be proud of the great work done by the GLF over the past two years to keep the world connected despite the challenges posed by Covid.”

“Elisabetta understands the value of diversity and will bring a fresh perspective to the challenges ahead. She'll provide valuable leadership as the GLF pivots beyond our traditional purpose of ‘connecting the world’ and addresses new issues, such as ESG, trust in technology, advancing automation, and next-gen interoperability.”

Romano told Capacity her first priority for the GLF is "to contribute toward the creation of value for profitable growth of the industry. We haven’t fully exploited the potential of the Edge, and we are still at the verge of Web3 and decentralised intelligence".

In keeping with the GLF's ethos of interoperability and ubiquitous connectivity, Romano also intends on strengthening "strategic alliances with industry organisations (such as MEF, CBAN, GSMA, Layer123 and i3Forum etc.) and create new streams of collaboration with technology vendors".

She says that though the GLF has been instrumental in the transformation of the industry, "as shown by the results of the last GLF survey - presented by Delta Partners during Capacity Middle East in Dubai -, it is urgent to restore growth in the telecom industry, a profitable growth".

One way this can be achieved is by "bringing back technology at the core of the industry".

"For example, exploring emerging tech-enablers as source of new revenue streams and focusing on increasing agility and efficiency, through automation and zero-touch operations," she explains.

There is also room for operations to growing their market share by challenging "the traditional business models and also make the most of the collaboration between carriers and hyperscalers".

Edge, Web3 and decentralized intelligence aside, Romano confirms that "IoT, distributed ledger technology and AI/ML at the base of autonomous networks shall be central in our strategy".

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