Rising Stars of the Tower Industry
TowerXchange pays tribute to some of the best up and coming talent in communications infrastructure
In early 2018 we put out a call for tower leaders to nominate their best and brightest young execs under 35 and were overwhelmed by the response from around the world. TowerXchange speaks to the Rising Stars who are leading deals, launching small cell networks and developing the disruptive solutions which will push forward telecommunications as networks evolve. In this article our Rising Stars share their backgrounds, careers, achievements and ambitions.
Suruchi Ahuja, CFO, Tillman Infrastructure
I studied at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Columbia University and completed my MBA at INSEAD before beginning my career as an analyst in Citigroup’s Hedge Fund Services Business. Prior to joining Tillman Global Holdings (TGH), I worked as an investment analyst at MAST Capital Management, a credit-focussed hedge fund, covering the telecom, telecom infrastructure and satellite and communications industries.
I am currently CFO of Tillman Infrastructure, a tower company currently deploying one of the largest build programs in the US. In addition I am a partner at parent company, Tillman Global Holdings, where I co-lead global business development and mergers & acquisition activities across North America, South America, Europe and Asia. I’m deeply involved in every step of the process, identifying greenfield investment opportunities and managing transactions. I’m also pioneering TGH’s digital cities initiative, which targets redefining the way citizens interact with their broader communities through holistically upgrading urban infrastructure.
I’m on the board of JCDecaux Link, a joint venture which builds and operates small cell infrastructure globally, and I’m also on the New England board for UNICEF.
Alisa Amupolo, Chief Executive Officer, PowerCom
I am a young, ambitions Namibian woman and mom to a nearly 12-month old who is transcending barriers in a male dominated industry (that of communication). I am a strategist and a transformational leader who thrives in highly competitive environment.
I hold a Masters in International Communications from the University of Leeds and I am also a graduate of the London Business School Emerging Leaders programme. In addition, I am an Alumni of the Chevening/Canon Collins scholarship.
My career as head honcho of PowerCom gives me the privilege of overseeing a portfolio of 300 towers (and growing). I am also overseeing rooftop services for a dedicated clientele base and rendering build to suit services for customers seeking a competitive edge in the market.
Prior to joining PowerCom I was a techprenuer and served as founder and CEO of Nation Technology Solutions, popularly known for its product information.na. The key value proposition was digital solutions for the front-end user market. One of my biggest challenges was reaching my target market and the impediment was access to infrastructure.
I was hence inspired to solve the problem so wound up my tech start-up and took up the challenge of CEO at PowerCom when the opportunity availed itself. At the same time I also served as one of the non-executive directors for the largest mobile operator in Namibia, MTC, for nearly three years with a strategic oversight of nearly $2bn revenue.
I was also the founding leader during the migration of old industry dispensation under the Namibian Communications Commission to the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia where I served as a strategic advisor and transformational project manager.
Prior to that, I worked for Commonwealth ICT programme at its headquarters in London shortly after completing my Masters in the UK and also worked at Namibian Broadcasting Corporation PR and marketing department in my early career where I had privilege of being part of the digital studios launch countrywide.
I am most proud of successfully establishing the independent Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia and on-boarding a dynamic management team for a body that is now busy driving ICT sector transformation in the industry and levelling the playing field whilst eliminating market barriers.
I am also proud of having turned around PowerCom from a negative outlook to a positive financial outlook in a record time between 6-12 months, where the company’s sustainability is on an upward trajectory. I take pride in stabilising the company and equipping it with the most critical resources and providing maximum shareholder value.
I aspire to carve my strategic growth path all the way into a boardroom of a listed company and thereafter I hope to expand my leadership skills to a pan-African level before penetrating the international leadership ladder.
Mohamed Ba, Head of Access Project, Cellnex France
I grew up in Bamako, Mali and I graduated in 2010, after which I went to Oran, Algeria, thanks to a scholarship that allowed me to obtain a degree in telecommunications and a masters in video and multimedia telecommunication networks. Always eager to improve my knowledge, especially wireless technologies, I pursued my studies at the French University of Lille, where I obtained a degree in radio engineering. I entered the towerco market as I graduated from this course, working for Cellnex France. Duarte Tome, Head of Maintenance Operations at Cellnex France, provided me with guidance in this specific area during my time at Cellnex. He is supporting my progression to Project Manager within his team.
At Cellnex France, I am responsible of the integration of acquired sites within Cellnex’s portfolio, including site access process.
Although a young project manager, I am proud of the results of site integration I have successfully conducted. I also value as success stories past experiences such as the setting up an identification system using RFID chips and Wi-Fi localisation, as well as creating an autonomous robot.
I still have a lot to learn. Evolving within Cellnex is a great opportunity to kick-start my career in the towerco industry. I expect to grow as a professional, become more autonomous and one day be able to supervise and coach new project managers. And why not become the manager for Cellnex operations in France, following in the footsteps of my mentor Olivier Jamet.
Lachlan Crane Co-Founder & Sales Director, SiteSee
Backed by Telstra’s innovation program, SiteSee helps towercos maximise tower utilisation by understanding the condition and as-built information of their towers. We do this by applying machine learning to third party drone captured imagery to automatically produce accurate, repeatable business useful reports. SiteSee is a business solution delivering internal efficiencies & new customer facing services for towercos & infracos. As the Co-Founder of SiteSee, my journey in the tower industry began in 2016 when I attended the TowerXchange Meetup in Singapore. Since then, SiteSee has secured projects with towercos and telcos in Australia, the US and the UK.
My career to date has seen me work in a variety of government, corporate and private companies across various industries. With no prior experience in the telco industry, my decision to co-found SiteSee was driven by the obvious need to apply emerging technologies to improve the management of infrastructure. Through TowerXchange, I am fortunate to have connected with industry experts who have advanced SiteSee’s capabilities for targeting specific industry challenges for towercos & infracos.
I’m most proud of my team, whose hard work and dedication to delivering meaningful solutions continues to be recognised internationally. As a team of just ten, SiteSee’s machine learning capabilities for the tower industry have been called world-leading by some of the world’s largest private tower infrastructure companies and leading telcos It’s comments like this that makes me most proud of the unique solution that SiteSee delivers.
My aspiration for 2018 is to further grow SiteSee’s team and expand operations internationally. Right now, SiteSee seeks partnership opportunities with towercos & infracos committed to reducing operational expenses and providing new and innovative customer facing services.
Joseph Etty, IHS Contract Manager, Orange Côte d’Ivoire
I first entered the big Orange family in May 2002 as call centre client advisor, then workedas a loyalty advisor from 2004 to 2006. From 2006 to 2013 I was in charge of the technical heritage of OCI. Currently, I am IHS contract Manager and in charge of the interim of the Towerco Contract Manager, performing key activities such as making sure the contractual commitments of the partner are fulfilled; ensuring the quality of benefits provided by the partner and ensuring the safety of the financial interests of OCI in the execution of the contract.
I am also responsible for the project for the safety of our towers. In fact, following a series of tower falls, we undertook security actions on all of our sites, evaluating both sites under IHS management and sites under OCI management.
For sites under IHS management, the working method consisted of auditing all the sites to identify the towers at risk and then carry out security actions such as refurbishment, reinforcement or dismantling of the defective towers. Concerning sites under OCI management, we first listed the strategic sites that have a strong impact on the network and then we carried out audits to highlight the actions to be taken for the upgrading of the towers. This is a process that we have initiated on all our towers with the aim of guaranteeing the safety of our technical sites by the end of 2018.
I also control antenna loads on towers because they represent a significant cause of risk of falling and impact tower variations that have significant impact on our operational expenditure. The determination method is based on the load capacity of the towers, the load occupied and the remaining load. We also take into account the distribution of loads on the towers in order to limit the risk of the fall of the towers and optimise our operational expenditures.
I have also been working on the ESCO+ project since its launch, which is a strategic project that will allow us to reduce our OPEX in the consumption of energy on our sites and also challenge our partner IHS in order to stimulate a fair competition for the final satisfaction of our customers.
My greatest satisfaction is first of all the national and international recognition that allows me to represent the Orange Group today on the sharing and management of the towers. Also, my role in the implementation of the ESCO+ contract for which the signature of the selected contractor is planned in the coming days.
We participated in a project to improve grid quality with an energy availability rate of 99.9% over more than 24 months on an ongoing basis (Contractual objective NAR: 99.8%). When OCI was in charge of that activity, we had a value around 99.6%. That was made possible thanks to a strict piloting by our partner. We have identified together the critical sites on which improvement and proactive actions were carried out. We have defined strategies to carry out targeted actions, going from Human Resources to investments by sites and we have also evaluated our working method. Furthermore, by the windfall effect, we have increased our park of more than 750 sites with IHS in less than 4 years in reasonable deadlines of provision. However, there is still a lot to do in order to ensure flawless benefits to our customers.
When it comes to my ambitions for the future, in the short run I would like to improve my knowledge in the management of strategic projects in order to better challenge our partner and help them improve returns and ensure energy availability of 99.95%, while guaranteeing sustainable and safe sites. Within the next five years I would like to have reached the position of Manager/Leader (Director) and help my company in the management of structuring and strategic projects at both national and international level.
Matteo Felli, Radio Technology Designer for DAS and Small Cells, CommsCon
After gaining a Secondary School Diploma in IT I decided to enroll at Politecnico di Milano where I graduated in 2012 in Telecommunications Engineering. A few months later I was already working at CommsCon, an Italian company based in Milan, which was then acquired in 2016 by Cellnex, Europe’s leading independent operator of wireless communication infrastructure. At CommsCon we work on what is today unanimously recognized as the future trend in telecommunications: multi-operator and multi-system DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) and small cells for delivering huge capacity and performance to mobile communications. Currently, I’m Radio Technology Designer for DAS and Small Cells mobile communications services and my key responsibility is to design new systems, and as Project Manager I also take care of the whole end-to-end process.
Here at CommsCon I’ve found a very forward-thinking management team who believed in my capabilities and invested in me since day one. I believe I’ve grown a lot during these years as I undertook new responsibilities and I am already in charge for many on-the-ground activities. I think I’ve learned a lot but there is always room for improvement... I’m always looking for the next challenge. My professional career began back in 2012 here at CommsCon, right after my graduation. I wasn’t immediately asked to work on some of the most interesting projects, like designing new DAS and Small Cells plants to be installed at the Verona’s Fair. After that, I also worked to design new systems for Milan Central Railway Station and for three of the most important airports in Lombardia, the Milan city airport Linate, Malpensa Airport and Orio al Serio Airport in Bergamo, where I was also appointed Project Manager. In 2014, I worked on a series of projects involving some of the most amazing brand new buildings which have radically changed the Milanese skyline, including the Bosco Verticaleâ designed by the renowned architect Stefano Boeri, and winner of the Best Tall Building Worldwide award in 2015. But that was just the beginning because I then also designed and project managed the systems for the Genova subway and for the Stadio San Siro and Forum Assago in Milan as well as, in 2017, the systems for the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Last but not least, I’m currently working to improve mobile communication performances of another iconic skyscraper in Milan, designed by the famous Zaha Hadid, which recently became the HQ of Generali.
To be honest, I’m most proud of the determination I have put in to all of the projects I’ve been involved in since my career began in 2013. I’m very meticulous, I really try to be on top of every single phase from planning and implementation to the final delivery. For example, when we worked to install and test the network infrastructure to improve mobile performances at the San Siro Stadium in Milan I felt very proud as we were finally providing to thousands of fans the possibility to use their smartphones to connect and share photo and videos real time with a stable and reliable broadband network. The so called “Internet of Things” and mobile connectivity in general together with the roll-out of 5G networks and its disruptive effects in our everyday life makes me very excited. These are the moments I most like, when I come to realize that we’ve actually succeeded in doing something truly innovative. I see myself as hard worker, determined and I feel very lucky to do a job that I love. My attitude is what pushes me to do better and to achieve more ambitious targets in the forthcoming years.
I would like to continue to work in this business, to learn new things, to reach new skill levels and professional development. One of my goals is to soon lead a dedicated team for DAS and Small Cells special projects, maybe not only here in Italy but also abroad. At a personal level, I try to find a balance between my work and my private life. One of my favorite sports is swimming, I did it professionally for over ten years. It really energizes me and it helps me to ease stress and to find some balance with my daily routines. Next steps? Getting married and having kids with the person I love.
Zardasht Khalid Hasan, Rollout Senior Manager, Korek Telecom
After graduating from university and getting bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2006, I began my career in telecommunications with VSAT installation for both public and private sectors.
After two years working in installation in the field I joined Korek Telecom company as a team leader in Radio Access Network planning, it was a great opportunity for me to develop my skills because Korek Telecom had started expansion across Iraq, and proudly I participated in a specialist expansion project for mountainous and rural areas, providing mobile service for people in villages and far away from main cities. Working to improve lives in this way gives you a special feeling and this part of my career is unforgettable.
In 2010 I was promoted to RAN planning supervisor and we started many expansion projects across Iraq. Korek Telecom signed binding agreement with France Telecom (Orange) in March 2011, which was a great opportunity for local staff to benefit from this agreement, working with expats and experts opened the door for many locals to develop their skills, and after three years I was promoted to the position of Rollout Manager.
In 2014 we started 3G technology project, I was managing this project and we launched 3G officially on the first of January 2015. After that we implemented many projects to expand 3G coverage, I managed all 3G projects till July 2016.
After this I was nominated to lead a restoration project in areas that had been controlled by ISIS, in particular in Nainawa. We started network restoration and rebuilding in August 2016 and worked parallel with army to give them the best network service. During the restoration project I was promoted to Rollout Senior Manager. We were able to restore most of our network and this project is one of the most unforgettable projects in my career.
In my career to date, I’m most proud of providing coverage to rural and mountainous areas on the border between Iran, Iraq and Turkey. I am also proud of our restoration project to rebuild our network in areas which had been under the control of ISIS.
My aspirations for future include using green and renewable energy in our country, especially in the telecom industry. Also providing the best coverage to all people in my country especially in rural areas to connect them to the new world because the new generation in those area, they have ambition and they need to be part of world family without differentiatingbetween colors, religions, and nationality.
Shabnam Hajizamanali, Program Director of Project Management Office (PMO), WireIE
I’m the Program Director for the Project Management Office at WireIE. We are a leading telecommunications company that delivers highly available, secure data networks to customers in underserved areas across Canada and in South America. Meeting the quality, schedule, security, and health and safety expectations of customers in Government, Oil and Gas and other industries in these remote and rural areas can be challenging. Bringing network connectivity to these parts of the world is where we specialise, and where we’ve developed best practices for delivery and operations over the past seven years that I’m proud to have played a part in creating and advancing. To me, communication and being connected is power! My curiosity and passion for what we do, and to contribute in bringing network connectivity into underserved communities to empower people and businesses is what attracted me to this industry.
After graduating from engineering and management programs, I followed my interest in business and process analysis in Information Technology. As part of my-day-day activities, I interacted with a diverse group of people across various departments, parties, project teams and stakeholders. I was inspired to be involved more profoundly in project management and service delivery, wanting to make an impact and to contribute in delivering successful implementations and satisfying customers. I combined my previous experience and skillset in business and process analysis with project management and set out towards the improvement and maturity of our project delivery practice here at WireIE, where I continue to lead our team to solve complex delivery solutions.
Our company is focused on delivering solutions to customers in the most rugged and hard-to-reach parts of the world. Leading our team of engineers, real estate and carrier professionals, as well as rigging and tower operator partners, while continuously improving our delivery processes, has helped us meet and often exceed our customers’ expectations in time and cost to deliver on a consistent basis. The makeup of customers we serve is vast and dynamic in both public and private sectors. Working with different customers to customise our solutions in order to meet requirements has always been exciting and meaningful to me, and I’m proud of being part of such a hardworking team and a trusted telecom solutions provider whose mission is to go above and beyond our customers’ expectations.
Every moment is a gift and we have the choice to shape, create and make a meaningful impact. I’m a lifetime learner and my aspirations are to expand my leadership experience, knowledge and skills to continue to make positive impacts and to empower the people around me toward success and achievement. Working in telecommunications makes me appreciate the value and impact that smart business solutions can have to elevate communication among different communities as a strong success key.
Andrew Henderson, Special Projects Manager, Wireless Infrastructure Group
I started my career with PwC, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant before moving into M&A deal advisory, where I worked across a range of sectors. My time spent there highlighted to me the advantages of working in a sector with attractive end market dynamics, which really made the tower industry stand out. There was an obvious rationale for the place of independent infrastructure, and it took very little research to see how the market had developed across the Atlantic. I knew of Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) as a fast growing company in this sector, with an ambitious management team. So when the opportunity arose to join the team I jumped at the chance.
I have been with WIG for over 4 years. Over time my role has evolved from largely financial analysis to becoming part of WIG’s management team, dealing with a range of growth projects, and helping to shape the strategy and direction of the business at an exciting time for the industry.
My role to date has included being involved with or leading areas such as reviewing M&A opportunities, and in attracting both equity and debt investment into WIG. I have also been involved with significant capital deployment projects within the business, such as deploying DAS in marquee venues, and new tower builds.
I am proud to have played a role as part of a dynamic and motivated leadership team that has grown the business significantly in recent years. Being younger than the rest of the team has allowed me to learn a lot about the industry from some very experienced people.
Being involved in projects across the business has also helped me to understand the bigger picture of the role we play for our customers. As a business we relish the opportunity to deliver for our customers, and that culture is something I am very proud to be involved with.
I am looking forward to being heavily involved in the ongoing investment programme for the business, including opportunities to deploy new infrastructure to enable better connectivity across the UK’s major road and rail routes, as well as in rural areas. Small cells represent another exciting opportunity; WIG recently partnered with O2 to launch the UK’s first fibre-connected small cell network, supporting C-RAN technology, in Aberdeen. This marks a step-change in WIG’s fibre ambitions, with plans to construct bespoke new fibre networks for the deployment of small cells.
Personally I am looking forward to taking a further step up in the leadership of the business during a time when WIG is taking a leading role in paving the way for 5G.
Maarten Kippers , Sales Manager, Alticom. A Cellnex Company
When I was 15 years old I started working as a sales representative with one of the first independent mobile phone stores in the Netherlands.
Since that moment I’ve mostly been working within or related to the telecommunications industry and mostly from the sales point of view.
I’ve had various sales positions within the (hosted) fixed and mobile communication market with MNOs and MVNOs.
I’ve also been responsible for the integration of telecommunication as a service within one of the largest collective purchasing organisations in the Netherlands.
I’ve been working with Alticom since December 2016. Alticom was searching for an additional Sales Manager for their datacentre proposition and I immediately applied when I heard about the vacancy. Although Alticom had seen numerous applicants, I felt an immediate chemistry with the Alticom team and after various interviews, we shook hands and here we are now.
I’m really proud of working with the 24 Alticom (and nowadays Cellnex) towers. These towers are not your average broadcasting or telecommunication towers, but enormous media towers with a more than 60-year history. I’m proud of being a member of the Alticom team, implementing new technologies to the towers, like IoT, edge computing and blockchain technologies. With these new technologies, I’m confident that the towers of Alticom will be part of a whole new era.
My personal goal for the future is to search for the perfect partners for our datacentre solutions and of course other (Cellnex) solutions. These towers are perfect for small private datacentre solutions. Recently we have been able to provide universities, insurance companies and other well-known companies with these private-build datacenters in our towers.
My personal goal is to add more of these well-known names to our existing clients. Within the last months, I have successfully added a new type of service to the Alticom menu card: housing for cryptocurrency-miners. This market has an enormous potential and could be one of our more profitable services. I hope to expand this activity to several megawatts before the end of the year.
I know it is a common path for many people in my position and once I have gained the required experience, I would like to move on to management eventually.
Noim Mohammed Jony, Specialist, TOC, edotco
I am a graduate in electrical & electronic engineering, working in the energy sector to understand its value, particularly in a country like Bangladesh where 38% of the country still has poor grid or no grid access at all. I have always preferred to work in infrastructure and new technologies which led me to edotco, in energy management, as a power planner focussing on optimisation. Later I headed toward the tower operation centres in RMS (remote monitoring system) to understand & analyse the data for operational excellence and cost savings.
I started my career in the field of sales and service engineering for a transformer manufacturing company. After that I worked in Aggreko, one of the largest rental power companies in the world, over a period of three years as a senior engineer in O&M. Then for the last five years I’ve been working for edotco in different aspects of energy management, power planning and optimization, tower operation centres and infrastructure analysis.
In my career so far I’m most proud of working under my CMD and getting an award from him. I always keep in touch with country operational head and engineering head.
In the future, I’d like to focus my work towards benefitting mankind and improve in areas such as continuous improvement in energy utilization, ensuring the right tools in the right period, O&M through proactive measurement etcetera, in the hope it will lead me to become a towerco technical head.
Alexey Kiryanov, Key Account Manager, Russian Towers
Having graduated in 2007 from the Moscow Technical University of Electronic Technology, I began my career in telecommunications at the fixed line telecom operator Sovintel (known by the Golden Telecom brand). In the first year of my telecommunication practice, I worked as an engineer, which allowed me to develop my technical skills as well as communication skills with key corporate clients. After a year of engineering experience, I was promoted to the position of business development manager with to focus on the search for and engagement of partners for the expansion of the company’s footprint in the Russian regions for which I was responsible.
In 2011, Sovintel was acquired by the major Russian mobile operator VimpelCom, which resulted in the restructuring of the department where I worked. At that time, upon the recommendation of my former colleagues, I was invited to an interview at Russian Towers. I succeeded and became a part of the ambitious and professional team of Russia’s No. 1 operator of independent infrastructure.
I started at Russian Towers as a sales manager. My duties were very wide ranging since, at that time, we were at the beginning of expanding our infrastructure sites. The key goals included obtaining the maximum possible number of orders from MNOs for construction of the new infrastructure, as well as bringing new tenants to the existing sites. At that time, we had to build business processes from scratch, to devise and launch any new instruments that allow handling a large amount of data, measuring the coverage quality for the assessment of commercial appeal. However, the most challenging goal was to persuade the telecommunication operators that we were working with that an infrastructure company is more efficient. To that end, we had to change the established mentality of MNOs and persuade them that a placement on an infrastructure operator’s sites is more advantageous than the construction of their own.
Our first sites were mainly constructed outside the large cities and constituted the capital towers of, on average, 70 meters. In the first years of my work at Russian Towers, I travelled, in the truest sense of the word, across the entire country and visited its most remote places. For example, during the summer 2011, I visited five seas at the furthest points in Russia. For over six years at Russian Towers, I managed to work with all key clients in various regions. In 2016, after the introduction of the account management system in our company, I took charge of the relations with one of Russia’s largest clients’ MTS.
The company’s first progress reports prepared by us contained sites already constructed and being under construction as indicated on Russia’s map. At first, there were dozens, then hundreds and now there are thousands of sites. The present-day map of our sites is certainly the greatest source of pride for me, looking at it and understanding that the number of Russian Towers™ sites by far exceeded 3,300 in 2017, I am aware of my involvement in these achievements of our company. I am also proud that, despite the very fast growth rates and the increased number of sites, we manage to keep the high tenancy ratio, which is a very important indicator in the infrastructure business.
I believe my key achievement as a Key Account Manager in 2017 is a 40% rise contracts from my client.
All of us see with a keen interest how fast and sometimes very unexpectedly the modern world changes itself. This is especially visible in the information technology sector. Construction of 5G networks, Elon Musk satellite internet, machine intelligence and unmanned vehicles. All of these areas give rise to new requirements to the infrastructure, its scale and rollout tempo. I plan to use all of the skills I’ve learned to date to work in this area.
Artem Nevleninov, Senior Engineer, Russian Towers
I graduated from the Moscow Polytechnic Institute majoring in Production Engineering. Prior to joining Russian Towers, I worked in different telecommunications companies, where I got valuable experience and insight into how the Russian mobile communications industry operates. In 2014, the fast development of Russian Towers drew my attention. The solid experience that I received by that time helped my success at the interview with Russian Towers.
In 2007, I graduated from university. My first job was a production engineer at an aviation plant. After one year there, I decided to try myself in another industry. By that time, several friends of mine had already been working in the mobile communications industry. That’s how I became interested in it as well. Russian mobile communications were viewed as one of the industries that could compete with the other developed countries in terms of technology and various applications. For 6 years, I worked at corporate contractors of mobile communications operators, in the telecom operator divisions (Veon) and for a vendor (NSN/Nokia). Over the last three years, I have been with Russian Towers, specialising in control over the placement of the equipment and verification of the project solutions. I also take an active part in new business development projects of our company such as the new types of infrastructure solutions, camouflaged solutions, etc.
My job is to design the telecommunication infrastructure. And of course, I am proud to be involved in its this kind of work: developing the drawings of various technical processes for the manufacture of parts, assembly drawings that are further used in construction, etcetera. Our team has implemented over 80 projects for the placement of new base stations.
My cross-disciplinary experience, achievements, trials and (I have to admit) errors help me take on new tasks with optimism. One of my mottos is - there are no unsolvable tasks and it helps me to move always ahead and relentlessly pursue success in everything I do.
I really want my company to be the first one to launch the completely new service - RAN Sharing - provided by an independent infrastructure operator.
I am also interested in developing my professional skills in the company’s other business areas in telecommunications where our company is a first-mover as well.
Dmitry Popov, Director of Construction, Russian Towers
I graduated from Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 2008. Since 2006 I worked in the construction industry. At that time my main specialization was the organization of works on construction sites, mainly power lines and outdoor lighting. In particular, I was responsible for planning of works, updating schedules and preparing reporting plans for customers to ensure the delivery of milestones, as well as the timely supply of construction sites with the materials and equipment.
In 2011 I accidentally came across a vacancy for a project manager at Russian Towers and decided to apply. I knew nothing about the infrastructure business, but, nevertheless, after two interviews, Russian Towers decided to hire me. I got into the construction department which at that time consisted of just two people: Director of Construction and me as a Project Manager.
The company grew as the number of projects being implemented increased and the department gradually expanded. In April 2012 I was promoted to the position of a Deputy Director of Construction. That period was extremely difficult from the technical point of view as the Company had to accomplish an infrastructure project along the high-speed railway Sapsan. Its ultimate goal was to provide coverage in the high-speed trains along all railway from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg (700 km) and from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod (400 km). The project was implemented under my supervision. The complexity of this project was that to ensure quality connection we had to put towers every 5-10km on the territory of the six Russian regions in conditions of swamps and forests without any approach roads available. Despite all these difficulties we managed to complete the construction in timely manner and nowadays the passengers of the Russian high-speed trains enjoy Wi-Fi during their trips.
In July 2013 I was promoted to Director of Construction in recognition of my contribution to the company’s success. Since 2013 the department has grown to 13 people and has undergone changes in the approach to organization of work processes: tasks within the department are carried out on the basis of a conveyor principle. These changes allowed us to build more than 750 sites in 2017 (in total we now have over 3,300 sites across 55 regions). Having achieved excellent results, our team continues to evolve and increase the pace of construction for the subsequent periods, while decreasing CAPEX. Also, we plan to migrate fully our department’s processes and tasks to our corporate IT system which will enable us to process incoming data more quickly, increase our operational efficiency and create more value and benefits to our customers.
Rossana Riccardo, Project Manager, INWIT
I think innovation is the key of our success, and that’s why I have always combined work and study. Before Inwit, I worked in another company, Tcc. While I woked there I realized I had mental flexibility and willingness to work in a team. In February 2016 applied for a position in Inwit and in June 2016 I joined the INWIT team.
My task has been a big challenge: the realization of the best European small cells network. In Italy there are about 4,000 small cells, half I them were built by my team! I deployed, in just two years, more than 2,000 small cells, spread on the entire national territory. INWIT made me grow a lot. Here I have responsibilities, being fortunate to be part of a general management of a company necessarily involves making choices that must inevitably lead to results that match the company objectives.
I am motivated, tenacious, eager to know and to make new experiences, to reach new goals. I’m proud to be charge of the deployment of a brand new innovative network, that is shaping our company in a future-proof way.
Tobias Schwender, Head of M&A, Cellnex Telecom
I am originally from Germany but moved to Barcelona 11 years ago with the idea of developing my professional career. After a number of training programmes I joined Abertis group as an M&A analyst with a primary focus on infrastructure projects. My first touchpoint with towers was in 2012, when I was involved in the acquisition of 1,000 sites from Telefonica in Spain by Abertis telecom (today Cellnex Telecom). I was then involved in all the subsequent tower acquisitions led by the group including Telefonica in Spain and TowerCo in Italy.
I had the chance for closer contact and a deep dive into towers, including learning more about market analysis, competitive environments and valuation during Cellnex’s IPO in 2015 and the Galata acquisition in Italy (c. 7.400 sites from Wind) which was one of the main deals at that time in Europe and key milestone for our successful IPO.
My career to date has involved those initial tower acquisitions from Telefonica, leading Cellnex’s IPO process from an M&A perspective (business plan, coordination of banks, information exchange, acting as an intermediary between corporation and business, information recompilation, etc..) and leading the execution of Project Galata (acquisition of 7,377 sites from Wind for 770mn) as a first major step diversifying towards Telecom Infrastructure Services I become Head of M&A at Cellnex Telecom in 2015, and since then I have led the execution of Cellnex’s M&A deals involving the first steps in new countries (The Netherlands, France, UK) and consolidation for more than €750mn. I also led the execution of Cellnex’s first deal within a consortium of partners (Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and Swisslife); the acquisition of c. 2,200 sites from Sunrise in Switzerland for 430mn. In August 2017 I became a member of the board of Cellnex Switzerland.
So far in my career, I’m most proud of being Head of M&A of one of Spain’s Top 35 listed companies and the leading independent European tower operator. In the future I’d like to consolidate my current expertise and know-how in order to seek out new challenges and be able to give back the same guidance and training that I have received.
Gaetano Sgueglia, Telecommunications Engineer, INWIT
Since I was a child I’ve always thought big, trying to overcome my limits day by day. For the past five years I have been working at TIM in the management of telecommunication networks. I was in charge of the field operations division, which saw me receive the award of ‘best young manager’ in my company in 2015. I was chosen to join INWIT in 2017 on the back of success in this role. At present, I’m responsible for the construction of mobile network infrastructure for 4G/5G development: In the last year I’ve created about 100 macro sites and over 200 small cells throughout southern Italy and I’ve also achieved 90% success rate rent renegotiations and saving of facilities sites.
What makes me proud is to give people the opportunity to communicate, share and interact remotely, to feel emotions and thus feel closer to each other. In the future, I hope to grow professionally and as a person, making new experiences, expanding my knowledge, meeting new people and facing new challenges! I would like to become an institution in my field and a role model for the new generations.
Christian Strømme, CEO, GSMtowers
I’m the founder and CEO of GSMtowers, a Norwegian telecom infrastructure provider, operating in Asia and Africa. Being the third generation in steel towers, I think I was burdened with this profession from birth. Growing up more or less at a steel factory, I used towers as monkey bars as a kid. When I grew older I was considered the black sheep in the family for choosing a finance degree and eventually joining an investment house. However, the gravitational forces became too strong and I was pulled in to the business. My first job in Telecoms was as a cad drafter when I was a student, for my grandfather’s company in Norway. This was basic drafting of the details of a tower, but it was a nice introduction to towers.
I then had a green energy internship with the Indian company Reime NIS back in 2008 before joining Jarlø after my graduation: first as a business development manager for West Africa, living in the Gambia, before moving back to Norway and spent about a year moving Jarls’s manufacturing from Thailand to China, and rebuilding their supply chain.
In 2011, I did an honest attempt to leave the telecoms industry and joined a Norwegian project bank, before I was dragged back to telecoms. A lot of my time in banking was dealing with wealthy entrepreneurs, and they liked talking about how they had succeeded which lead me to the conclusion that I sat on the wrong side of the table. So I started GSMtowers; we started with pure tower supply, but have gradually expanded to become a full turn key supplier of telecom infrastructure with projects in Asia and Africa.
I’m most proud of the fact that we managed to enter and become a reputable player in such an established market as the steel and telecom market. We have so far entered markets where the competition is among the toughest in the world and succeeded. Myanmar as an example was, and still is, the market that everyone entered at the same time, so our success there is our proof of concept. This concept which is the combination of our innovative, almost revolutionary, approach to towers and design, and a very mixed work force - starting with a base of several young talents mixed with some of the veterans of the industry - has driven us to practical and cost-effective solutions that go beyond the traditional work methodologies.
My ambitions for the future are to continue to groom GSM to become a leading player in the infrastructure market. Anything that will help accelerating connectivity, being a rural village or a self-driving car, I want us to be part of that development.
Innovations and development are the cornerstone in our operations, and we are working on some exciting concepts that we hope will fuel our growth going forward. We want to continue to grow GSM as you know it, with more countries and more presence, but also an expansion in our product portfolio there are sectors of the traditional work we do that would benefit from a bit of innovative thinking.
At the same time we are looking upwards in the value chain, and during the startup period in Myanmar I learned how towercos are set up from scratch. We have now helped a few of towercos around the world to reach scale, so that might be an interesting development for GSM.
Joe Sullivan, CEO Aerial Applications
I got into towers because we wanted to find where drone technology could help the most people. Once I heard that climbing towers is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, we knew there was a fit.
have always had a passion for technology. Before founding Aerial Applications, I was a co-founder of OfferBoard, a financial technology platform that was later acquired.
I’m most proud of the work we’ve been able to do in response to the hurricanes over the past couple years. Being able to build a company from nothing that could turn around and rapidly organize a response effort is incredibly rewarding. I am honored that our team had the privilege to assist response efforts during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, and proud of the work that we did. It is inspiring to be part of a team that can work so diligently and so passionately.
I believe Aerial Applications could be the leading software platform for cell tower asset management leveraging drone technology, and I would like us to continue building towards that goal.
Dr. Alvaro Valcarce, SON architect for small cells, Node-H
As a kid, I was intrigued and fascinated by wireless technology. I wanted to understand how we could possibly transmit information over invisible airwaves. How did electromagnetic waves work? What is the concept of information? So I went to college, worked hard, and obtained a masters degree in telecommunications. Since then, my career choices have moved me inexorably along the path of cellular networks, wireless technologies and tower companies.
During college, I got taught many facts about wireless technology. After that, I realised I wanted to find those facts myself, contribute to science and learn to do research. I went on to write my PhD thesis on wideband computational electromagnetics, wherein residential OFDMA femtocells were a use case. LTE was getting traction by the time I graduated. I then got the opportunity to work in the aeronautical industry, so I contributed to the development of small-cells for in-cabin and air-to-ground links. Then in 2013, I joined Node-H.
There, I’ve been inventing and developing the Self Organising Network (SON) functions that are so essential to small-cell and hetnet deployments. Developing SON is a neverending job. We currently support self-configuration features all the way from 3G to 4G, in residential and enterprise devices, single and dual mode, etc. We are beginning to work on 5G SON and looking ahead at the novel challenges that 5G will bring.
I consider the LTE SON suite that we have built at Node-H to be a feat of engineering. One of the advantages of developing software in a small company, is that design errors and novel techniques can be identified quickly (usually within a day). At Node-H, we have decoupled the teams that design the SON algorithms from the team that builds them, while allowing them to interact continuously in a startup-like manner. This way, we have been able to iterate algorithmic designs fast, without delaying the identification of design errors during later development phases. The result is a set of efficient and stable SON features with a high degree of flexibility, that network operators can use to minimise human intervention in their networks.
Despite substantial technological advances in the past 20 years, wireless connectivity still has a lot to improve. It’s 2018 already, but complaints about WiFi coverage and quality at home are on the rise (my friends and family often complain that “the internet doesn’t work”). Although I live in a large European capital, my smartphone still uses GPRS and Edge networks instead of LTE every once in a while. I would claim that the feelings aroused by an “Edge” symbol on the screen are akin to those aroused by road rage. Half of the world population has no internet connectivity, and the vast majority of things we use daily are not connected. In view of these challenges, I aspire to witnessing their solution within my lifetime. I think 5G, hetnets and small-cells are steps in the right direction and I would like to contribute to their advancement.
Nakul Virat, Business Leader Africa & Middle East
I have lived and worked in India, Europe, Africa and the US with increasing responsibilities within engineering first, and then business P&L roles across Africa and Middle East. I have a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and MBA from Kelley school of business - both in the US. The privilege of being exposed to diverse people, geographies and cultures has allowed me to utilise diversity and affinities to bring out positive results for all parties. I currently live in Johannesburg, South Africa with my wife (college sweetheart) and two adorable kids (6 and 2 year old).
I started out as a serial entrepreneur from my college dorm room during my sophomore year in the US. I ventured into power, pharmaceuticals and energy industries with some success and many failures. The learning from these ventures was tremendous - there is no substitute to discipline, hard work and positive attitude. After multiple failures (from which a learned a lot), I joined Cummins (USA) as an entry level controls engineer to learn two things. One was to learn the rigor of leading a business and two to gain the discipline that I needed. I was lucky to rise quickly within the Cummins’ ranks and was requested to lead a few segments for Cummins across Africa first and was promoted every 18 months until now that I lead the largest business opportunities for Cummins within Africa and Middle East.
I was trusted to lead the telecom business for Cummins across Africa in 2011 and soon realised that the market tail winds were towards the tower companies. My team and I aggressively targeted the telecom players with success. I was soon hailed as the “telecom guy” within Cummins as the resident telecom industry expert. My goal was to understand how the customers use products, how do they buy based on their KPIs and essentially how to make make the customer successful. This helped me get started within the telecom business in Africa.
I have been blessed to be afforded many opportunities due to which I have had varied level of success and learning. I feel proud when my customers and colleagues have acknowledged my entrepreneurial spirit, dependability and positive attitude to reach mutual success. I am also proud to have developed a strong network within Africa and Middle East. Lastly, I am proud to have always conducted business ethically even at the expense of short term business gains.
I would like to continue to learn and add value to large telecom organisations globally both from a passive and active infrastructure perspective. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by great leaders and I hope to help grow the next generation of leaders and leave a strong legacy. Finally, I aspire to maintain a healthy work life balance so that I can spend the more important moments with my family rather than being on the phone. This is a work in progress.