During 2015, the telecom industry witnessed considerable churn in the top management of telecom companies. Changing sector dynamics and the emergence of new growth drivers resulted in a number of appointments, promotions and resignations. A look at the key movements in the telecom industry, across operators, vendors and industry associations, during the past one year…

Government bodies

In April 2015, the Department of Tele­co­m­­­­­mu­nications appointed M. Akhaya as chief vigilance officer for an initial period of three years. In May 2015, Dr M. Jaga­desh Kumar and Rajiv Sharma were ap­pointed part-time members of the Tele­com Regulatory Authority of India for a period of three years from the date of assuming office or until they attain 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.

Service providers

Bharti Airtel

In March 2015, Manoj Kohli resigned from the board of Bharti Airtel and in July also stepped down as managing director (MD) of Bharti Enterprises. Kohli had been associated with the Bharti Group for 10 years. He led Bharti Airtel’s Indian operations for eight years, during which time the operator’s customer base reportedly grew from 1 million to 140 million. In 2010, Kohli moved to Africa to lead the company’s telecom business in the region.

In September 2015, Airtel appointed Nilanjan Roy as global chief financial officer (CFO). He succeeded Srikanth Bala­ch­an­dran, who was appointed global chief human resources officer (CHRO). Airtel also appointed Rajiv Mathrani as chief brand officer for its India operations.


In February 2015, the government appr­o­ved Anupam Shrivastava’s appointment as chairman and managing director (CMD) of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). The approval came from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. The Public Enterprise Selection Board had shortlisted Shrivastava for this position in 2013.


In April 2015, Reliance Communications (RCOM) appointed Srinivas M. as wireless business head of its Tamil Nadu and Kerala circles. Prior to joining RCOM, he was serving as chief operating officer (COO) at Idea Cellular, where he managed the company’s national prepaid and distribution business. In May 2015, RCOM realigned its business units to better serve the diverse needs of its Indian and international enterprise customers. As part of the reorganisation, the company expanded the role of Bill Barney, chief executive officer (CEO), Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), to also oversee RCOM’s enterprise, internet data centre (IDC) and national long distance operations in India. The company’s current domestic enterprise business CEO, Deepak Khanna, will continue to manage its enterprise and IDC businesses in the country under Barney’s leadership. In August 2015, RCOM appointed Braham Singh as senior vice-president (VP), global product management, RCOM Enterprise and GCX. Prior to joining RCOM, Singh was VP and senior adviser, international business, Hut­chi­son Global Communications. In December 2015, RCOM appointed Babu Vittal as CHRO, consumer business.


In January 2015, Sandip Das stepped down as MD, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), to mentor sales development for telecom devices at Reliance Retail. In March, Sumit Chowdhury resigned as president to start his own venture. In May, Anand Narang joined RJIL as VP and marketing head, devices division. A month later, the company appointed Pradeep Shri­­­vastava as chief marketing officer (CMO). Prior to joining RJIL, he was on the board of directors at PT XL Axiata Tbk, a part of the Indonesia-based Axiata Group.

RJIL also appointed Shamik Das as chief corporate development officer in June 2015. In this role, Das is responsible for assessing customer readiness and data service demand in the geographies where RJIL plans to roll out 4G voice and data services.


In May 2015, Ashwini Khillan resigned as chief technology officer (CTO), Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL). In July 2015, he joined American Tower Cor­po­ration India as COO, replacing B. Ramanand, who had been in this position for five years. In August 2015, SSTL made two key appointments – Bijender Yadav as CTO and Ashok Singh as COO for the Kolkata and West Bengal circles respect­ively. In October 2015, SSTL appointed Sergey Savchenko as CEO. Savchenko replaced Dmitry Shukov. The company also appointed Leonid Musatov as COO and Sandeep Yadav as chief marketing and brand officer. In December 2015, SSTL appointed Ilya Kosolapov as CFO.

Telewings Communications

In May 2015, Vivek Anand resigned as CFO, Telewings Communications (Uni­nor). Thereafter, in June 2015, Uninor an­nounced several changes in its leadership across circles. K.C. Narendran took over as circle business head (CBH) of Uttar Pradesh (East), and Satish Kumar Kannan, as CBH, Uttar Pradesh (West). Meanwhile, Shrinath Kotian was appointed CBH of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana circle,  and Anil Kumar as CBH of the Assam circle.

In September 2015, Telewings ap­p­ointed Suresh Bagrodia as CFO and Quazi Mohammad Shahed as CHRO. In October 2015, Telewings appointed Sha­rad Mehro­tra as CEO, Indian operations. He succeeded Vivek Sood, who was appointed executive vice-president (EVP) and CMO of the group.


In February 2015, Tata DOCOMO ap­p­ointed Ajit Chaturvedi as head of its mobility business unit in the east region. In August 2015, Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) appointed Anuraag Srivastava as CFO. In September 2015, Tata Tele­services (Maharashtra) Limited appointed Harish Abhichandani as CFO.

Vodafone India

In February 2015, Vodafone India anno­u­nced that Marten Pieters would step down as MD and CEO, with effect from April 1, 2015, but continue to remain on the board of the company in a non-executive capacity. Pieters was appointed MD and CEO, Vodafone India, in February 2009. Under his leadership, the company doubled its revenues, added more than 100 million customers, increased its market share and launched data services.

In March 2015, Naveen Chopra was elevated to the position of COO while Nick Gliddon took over his role as director, Vodafone Business Services, the operator’s enterprise business unit. In April 2015, Vodafone India’s chief technology security officer Burgess Cooper resigned after a nine-year stint with the company. The position was later filled by Amit Pradhan.

In August 2015, Ashok Ramchandran resigned as director, human resources (HR), Vodafone India. He had joined the company in January 2009 and contributed significantly to building a strong perform­ance culture and HR practices for the company. Suvamoy Roy Choudhury took over as the new HR director. In Septem­ber 2015, Anthony Thomas resigned as chief information officer, Vodafone India.


In February 2015, Orange Business Ser­vi­ces appointed Dr Patrick Sim as senior VP, Asia-Pacific. In November 2015, Indus Towers appointed Bimal Dayal as CEO-designate. He will succeed B.S. Shantha­raju, who will retire on March 31, 2016.

Industry associations

In February 2015, GSMA appointed Gopal Vittal and Himanshu Kapania as its board members. They will serve on the board from January 2015 to December 2016. Vittal is MD and CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel, and Kapania has been serving as MD, Idea Cellular, since 2011. He is also chairman of the Cellular Operators Association of India, the body that represents GSM operators in India. GSMA represents around 800 mobile operators worldwide. At present, the GSMA board has 26 members including 25 operator representatives and GSMA’s director general Anne Bouverot.

In November 2015, the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), at its annual general meeting, una­nimously elected Amit Mathur, RCOM’s executive senior VP,  as its president. Mathur takes over from Sunil Batra, VP, corporate affairs, TTSL. Mean­­­­while, Arun Kumar Singh, additional VP, TTSL, was unanimously elected as AUSPI’s VP. AUSPI is the industry lobby body, which represents pure CDMA and dual-tech­no­logy­ carriers such as SSTL, RCOM and TTSL.

During the same month, former telecom secretary M.F. Farooqui was appo­inted chairman, Broadband India Forum (BIF), which focuses on the development of the broadband segment. In his new role, Farooqui will be involved in promoting content developers and bringing all broadband technology players on board to support the Digital India initiative. He takes over from Shyamal Ghosh, who has been appointed chairman emeritus of BIF. The forum has over 40 members including technology providers, operators, internet service providers, cable TV operators, value-added service providers and professionals.


Network and technology

In February 2015, Samsung announced changes in its top management positions in its Indian business unit. The realignment came after Ravinder Zutshi, deputy managing director, India, retired after serving the company for 19 years. Follow­ing this, Sanjay Bali, senior VP, HR, was assigned the responsibility of managing relations with different departments and ministries including HR, education, environment, women and child development, and culture. In addition, Bali manages the operational affairs of the Samsung Advi­sory Board. Meanwhile, Manu Kapoor manages relations with the central government as well as industry bodies, and Deepak Bhardwaj, VP, manages state government relations.

In April 2015, ZTE Corporation appointed Liu Peng as the new CEO of its Indian business. He replaced Xu Dejun, who completed his tenure of 10 years and moved to the company’s headquarters in China. During the same month, AMD India appointed Prabhat Sharma as country head, enterprise business, and Pancham Kumar as country head, consumer business.

In June 2015, Tata Communications appointed Pratibha Advani as CFO. During the same month, Brocade appointed Sri­kanth Natarajan as director, channels and alliances, for India and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In July 2015, Nokia appointed Rupa Santosh as head of Nokia Networks’ technology centre in Bengaluru. Mean­while, Padmasree Warrior stepped down as Cisco’s CTO to move to a strategic advisory role at the company.

In July 2015, Ericsson appointed Paolo Colella as head of Indian operations. Colella took over from Chris Houghton, who assumed the role of Northeast Asia region head. In September 2015, Qual­comm appointed Sunil Lalvani as VP, Qualcomm, US-based Technologies, Inc., and president, Qualcomm India. He succeeded Avneesh Agrawal, who was senior VP and president, Qualcomm, India and South Asia. Prior to joining Qualcomm, Lalvani was working with BlackBerry as MD, India and SAARC.

In October 2015, following the mer­ger deal with Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia decided to align its financial reporting under two key areas – Nokia Technologies and Nokia Networks. Nokia Technologies will continue with its own innovations, product development and go-to-market operations, and will be led by Ramzi Haidamus, who will continue in his current role as president, Nokia Technologies. The Networks business will be conducted through four business groups – Mobile Networks (MN), Fixed Networks (FN), Applications and Analytics (A&A), and IP/Optical Networks (ION). The business group leaders will report directly to Nokia’s president and CEO.

MN will include the radio portfolios of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent as well as most of their converged core network portfolios and the associated mobile ­networks-related global services business. This unit will also include Alcatel-Lucent’s microwave business and all of the combined company’s end-to-end managed services business. MN will be headed by Samih Elhage, executive VP and CFO, Nokia Networks. FN will include Alcatel-Lucent’s Fixed Networks business and will be headed by Federico Guillén, who currently serves as president, Fixed Networks, Alcatel-Lucent. Mean­while, A&A will combine the ­software and data analytics-related operations of both companies and will be led by Bhaskar Gorti, who currently serves as president, IP Platforms, Alcatel-Lucent. ION will combine Alcatel-Lucent’s IP routing, optical transport and IP video businesses, and its software defined networking start-up Nuage with Nokia’s IP partner and packet core portfolio. Basil Alwan will be president, ION. He currently serves as president, IP routing and transport, Alcatel-Lucent. Besides, Timo Ihamuotila, executive VP and group CFO, Nokia, will be appointed CFO. Ashish Chowdhary, currently chief business officer, Nokia Net­wor­­ks, will serve as chief customer operations officer. Marc Rouanne, currently exe­cutive VP, mobile broadband, Nokia Net­works, will serve as chief innovation and operating officer. Hans-Jürgen Bill, currently executive VP, HR, Nokia, will serve as CHRO. Kathrin Buvac, currently VP, corporate strategy, Nokia Networks, will serve as chief strategy officer. Barry French, currently CMO and executive VP, marketing and corporate affairs, Nokia, will serve as CMO. Maria Varsellona, currently executive VP and chief legal officer (CLO), Nokia, will serve as CLO.

In December 2015, Sandeep Girotra was appointed India head for the merged entity of Nokia Networks and Alcatel-Lucent. In his new role, Girotra will be responsible for overseeing the customer operations of the combined entity in India, driving strategy execution and ensuring superior customer services. He joined Nokia Networks in 1996 and worked in various capacities before taking charge as India head in 2011. Girotra will report to Chowdhary.

Meanwhile, Brocade appointed Hadi Nahari as VP and security CTO. In December 2015, Sanjiv Saddy resigned as VP and head, business support, regulatory, real estate and corporate affairs, Tata Communications, to join Flipkart as senior VP, corporate affairs and business development.

Handset vendors

In February 2015, Ajay Sharma resigned as CEO, India operations, Obi Mobiles. In March 2015, HTC Corporation appointed Faisal Siddiqui as its new regional president for South Asia. Meanwhile, Micro­max appointed Ashish Agrawal as its new CTO. In April 2015, HTC announced the promotion of Manu Seth to the position of senior director, head of marketing for South Asia. He will report directly to South Asia regional president Faisal Siddiqui.

In September 2015, Sanjay Kapoor stepped down as chairman, Micromax. Du­­ring the same month, OPPO appointed Mike Wang as CEO for its India operations. In November 2015, BlackBerry India appointed Narendra Nayak as MD. The position had been vacant since the exit of Sunil Lalvani in June 2015. In November 2015, Ankush Chatterjee join­ed Obi Worldphone (erstwhile Obi Mobiles) as VP, product marketing, strategic alliances and innovation.