Bharti Airtel’s Ajay Chitkara appointed director & CEO of B2B unit

26 June 2018 | Jason McGee-Abe

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Bharti Airtel has today announced the appointments of Ajay Chitkara as director and CEO of Airtel Business and Pankaj Miglani as CEO of Global Business.

Chitkara, who will continue reporting to Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO of Bharti Airtel, will spearhead the domestic and global enterprise business as one integrated unit. He has been with Airtel since 2001 and is credited with building brand Airtel in the global wholesale segment.

In his previous role as director and CEO – Global Business and Nxtra, he was responsible for creating business strategies for carriers, global enterprise and OTT segments, and implementing them globally through the regional teams. The company says that under his leadership, “Global Business grew in topline to become a billion dollar business, while EBIT margins jumped five-fold since 2013”. 

Capacity reported a few months ago that India data usage grew five times over the last year, and as result carries the world’s most internet data traffic. Of the estimated 2.1 Exabytes of data per month, it’s fair to assume the majority of it is likely to travel across Airtel’s network and therefore influence its business decisions.

Speaking to Capacity in our June/July Magazine, Chitkara said: “Our customers are looking to transform and digitise their business,” and it is for precisely this reason why Airtel is actively expanding its range of services and investing in new areas of development. Chitkara says one of the biggest developments today is cloud. “We have seen almost all of our enterprise customers and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) move to cloud, resulting in very high consumption levels of data,” he told Capacity.

Chitkara has a clear picture of the future goals for the company on the B2B side and he is ready and primed to execute them, he told Capacity in the June/July magazine issue: "One of our initiatives is to create a digital platform for any and all type of products and services that caters to the whole customer lifecycle end-to-end, whether its acquisition, delivery or support." 

As a key player in the infrastructure space as well, Chitkara adds that the company "will continue to build large and stable infrastructure to support the stability of our customer’s networks". "We are making large investments on that front as well, whether it’s domestic fibre, towers, access build up or submarine cables." 

In keeping with this promise of not straying from its core infrastructure business, the company recently announced its plan to expand its data footprint in Maharashtra and Goa by rolling out 8,000 new sites and 4,200km of optic fibre all within the FY 2018-19. The planned rollout will see Airtel’s sites go up by an added 25% to a total 38,000, while the additional optic fibre would increase its fibre backbone to 21,600km. 

Chitkara also emphasises some of the company’s other investment plans in newer revenue streams and adds: "Apart from our existing bouquet of network-related products, we are aggressively also working towards products for the future including - cloud security, managed services, IoT and data centres." 

The company already has a number of IoT solutions that leverages Airtel’s vast network that enables MNOs to implement M2M connectivity and market it to global enterprises. And thanks to its wholly-owned subsidiary, Nxtra Data, it also has 10 data centres across seven locations across India, managed services which includes dedicated hosting, storage and back up and four levels of cloud infrastructure: hybrid, public, private and back up. 

Chitkara went on to stress to Capacity that whatever’s next for the company, Airtel has a very clear underlying focus on the customer: "We are obsessed with our customers."

Pankaj MiglaniAirtel also announced the appointment of Pankaj Miglani as CEO of Global Business. Miglani, who will report to Ajay Chitkara, was previously CFO of the company’s tower arm, Bharti Infratel, and played a key role in the company’s IPO in 2012. 

Miglani is a Chartered Accountant, Cost Accountant and Company Secretary with more than 25 years of experience in the finance and business domains. He has earlier worked in Airtel for 10 years in various roles, including: chief controller of enterprise business and business head of Global Voice Services. 

Bharti Infratel has announced Miglani’s direct replacement as S. Balasubramanian after Miglani resigned from his position. The tower company in a regulatory filing said that Balasubramanian will take over the role of CFO from 10 August. Balasubramanian will take over reins at a time when Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers are awaiting the regulatory approvals for the $14.6 billion mega merger

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Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said: “I am delighted at Ajay’s appointment to lead Airtel’s B2B business as an integrated entity, which will help us leverage our global reach and deep relationships in the enterprise segment. I am also pleased to welcome back Pankaj after his successful stint with Bharti Infratel. I wish Ajay and Pankaj the very best for their new roles."

Overall, Airtel is the largest mobile network operator in India and the third largest in the world. With over 300 million subscribers in the region, the company serves approximately 1,600 enterprises and 200,000 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Airtel is India’s largest telecommunications service provider and has a global network of 2,50,000Rkm (of networking cable) covering 50 countries and 5 continents with 1,200 global carrier partnerships.

Airtel has recently launched a new digital carrier platform enabling global carriers to do wholesale voice business 'at the click of a button’. The new digital platform offers paperless sign-up, timely voice interconnects and real-time traffic analytics for global carriers.