During the past one year, the Indian telecom sector saw a major shake-up on account of industry consolidation. Interestingly, this not only impacted the business performance of multiple stakeholders but also led to several chan­ges in their top management. Voda­fone India re­­structured its management team ahead of its merger with Idea Cellular. There were major reshuffles, new appoin­t­­­ments, promotions and exits in the senior management of various other companies as well. Importantly, there was a change in hands in the leadership of the Department of Tele­co­mmunications (DoT) with Aruna Sunda­rarajan taking charge as telecom secretary.

tele.net takes stock of the key movements in the industry across government organisations, industry associations,  operators, infrastructure service providers, and network, technology and handset vendors in 2017…

Government organisations

In June 2017, Aruna Sundararajan was ap­pointed telecom secretary, taking over from J.S. Deepak, who stepped down from the post in March 2017. Sundararajan had been holding additional charge of DoT since May 2017 while serving as secretary, Minis­­­­­try of Electronics and Information Techno­­logy (MeitY). Meanwhile, at MeitY, Ajay Pra­­kash Sa­w­­hney was appointed secretary in June 2017 soon after Sundararajan’s exit. Later in September, Alphons Kan­nan­­­­tha­n­am was appointed minister of state, MeitY.

In November 2017, A.K. Saxena and N.K. Joshi were appointed interim directors of planning and operations respectively for Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). The interim measure was taken following approval from the appoint­me­nts committee of the cabinet.

Earlier, in April 2017, retired Supreme Court judge Shiva Kirti Singh was appoin­ted chairman of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal. The position had been vacant since June 2016, post the retirement of Justice Aftab Alam.

Service providers

Bharti Airtel

In January 2017, Bharti Airtel appointed Badal Bagri as chief financial officer (CFO) of its India and South Asia operations. He heads Airtel’s finance tea­ms across India, Sri Lanka and Ban­g­ladesh, and is responsible for driving the operator’s growth strategy. During the same month, Airtel also appoin­ted Raj Pudi­pe­ddi as director, consumer busi­ness, and chief marketing officer (CMO) of its India operations. Pudipeddi is part of the Airtel management board. Fur­ther, Bharti Airtel appointed Rajeev Sethi as chief commercial officer of its Africa operations. Prior to this, Sethi was chief executive officer (CEO) of Grameenphone. In July 2017, the company appointed Pankaj ­Tiwari as company secretary.

Vodafone India

Early in the year, Vodafone replaced Na­veen Chopra with Balesh Sharma as its India chief operating officer (COO). Shar­ma had been CEO of Vodafone Czech Republic since 2013. It also announced that it would integrate its commercial fu­nc­tions with operations, both of which would be under Sharma. As part of the change,  commercial head Sandeep Kata­ria now reports to Sharma. In March 2017, Vikas Grover, chief information officer (CIO) of Vodafone In­dia, resigned from the company after ­having worked with it for about nine years. He joined Vodafone as executive vice-pre­sident, technology planning, in June 2008 and was promoted to the position of CIO in 2016, following the exit of the then CIO, Anthony Thomas.

In August 2017, Vodafone India re­str­u­c­­tured its commercial team ahead of its merger with Idea Cellular. As a part of the restructuring process, Kavita Nair, who was initially executive vice-president of the company’s retail and digital divisions, was appointed associate director, commercial operations, while Avneesh Khosla was ap­p­ointed associate director, consumer business. Siddharth Banerjee continued to serve as executive vice-president, brand and marketing. Among the other changes, Arvind Nevatia was appointed Vodafone’s business head for the Punjab circle. Accor­ding to Vodafone, the purpose of the re­struc­turing was to entrust crucial roles to officials that needed to be retained after the merger with Idea Cellular.

In December 2017, Manish Dawar was appointed CFO of Vodafone India, ­repor­ting to Sunil Sood, director and CEO, Voda­­­fone India. Dawar took over from Tho­mas Reisten, who had been Vodafone India’s CFO for four years. He is also ­likely to serve as CFO of the merged ­entity.

Idea Cellular

In April 2017, Idea Cellular and Voda­fone India, which recently announ­­ced the merger of their operations, ap­pointed Kumar Man­galam Birla as chairman of the merged entity.


In April 2017, O.P. Gupta, senior general manager (sales and marketing) for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) ­Rajas­than circle, was given additional charge as principal general manager of the Jaipur tele­­­com district. He took over from ­H.S. Sharma, who was appointed chief general manager (CGM) of the Uttar Pradesh (West) circle. In July 2017, BSNL ­appoin­ted P.T. Mathew as CGM of the Kerala ­circle. In the past, he has headed the ­com­pa­­ny’s Vellore, Kannur, Coimbatore and Er­nakulam business circles. In November 2017, R. Marshal Antony Leo took charge as CGM, BSNL, Tamil Nadu circle. Prior to this, Leo was principal general manager, Puducherry and Cudda­lore, BSNL.


In February 2017, Tata Teleservices ­Limi­ted­ (TTSL) reappointed N. Srinath as managing director (MD) for another three years. Srinath has been serving as MD since February 2011. He has been associated with the Tata Group since 1986 and has held several senior positions across Tata companies in areas such as process automation and control, information technology and telecommunications. Prior to joining TTSL, he was MD and CEO, Tata Communications.


In March 2017, state-run telecom operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) appointed P.K. Purwar as chairman and managing director (CMD). He was previously working as director, finance, MTNL. Earlier, he held additional charge as CMD from June 2014 to June 2015.

Tata Communications

In March 2017, Subodh Bhargava, chairman, Tata Communications, stepped do­wn from his position with his term as independent director ending. Bhargava joined Tata Communications in May 2002. Mean­while, in April 2017, Renuka Ram­nath was ap­­p­ointed chairperson of the board of directors. Ramnath had been an independent director on the company’s board since December 2014.

Infrastructure providers

In August 2017, Indus Towers announced the appointment of Shankar Iyer as its chief sales and marketing officer. He replaced Sameer Sinha. This is Iyer’s second stint with the company as he had previously been associated with Indus Towers as a founding employee member and regional director.


Network and technology

In January 2017, Karan Bajwa was appoin­ted MD of IBM India. He succeeded Vanitha Narayanan, who was promoted as chairperson of the company’s Indian subsidiary. In his new role, Bajwa is responsible for all strategic and operational matters related to IBM’s sales, marketing, services and delivery operations in the Indian/South Asian regions including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In the same month, Qualcomm ap­poin­ted Larry Paulson as both president and vice-president of its India operations. In his new role, Paulson oversees Qual­comm­ India’s sales and business ­opera­tions and is responsible for the ­­go-to-market activities of Qualcomm’s CDMA ­techno­l­ogies and Qualcomm Technology Licensing.

In July 2017, Ericsson appointed Nunzio Mirtillo as head of the company’s Indian operations. He succeeded Paolo Colella, who is now head of digital services for Europe and Latin America. Earlier, in April 2017, Ericsson had appointed Mir­tillo as head of market for Southeast Asia, Oceania and India. In his new role, Mirtillo will also be responsible for Ericsson’s business across markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singa­­pore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philip­pines and Bangladesh. He was also ap­p­o­in­ted member of Ericsson’s executive team. Meanwhile, Nitin Bansal, head of network solutions for India, was appointed as head of network solutions for Southeast Asia, Oceania and India. Krishna Patil, who was earlier handling accounts for wes­tern India, was appointed head of the global customer unit for Bharti Airtel and the company’s customers in Bhutan and Nepal. Amarjeet Singh, who was earlier handling the Voda­fone customer unit at Ericsson India, assumed responsibility as customer unit head of West India accounts. Ajay Sood, who was earlier head of network ma­na­ged services based in the UK, was given charge of customer unit service providers, India. Furthermore, Jose Luis Serrato, who was handling the managed services business for India, was made the global head of managed services.

In July 2017, Dinesh Malkani, president,  India and SAARC operations, Cisco, resigned after having worked with the company for about seven years to take on a leadership role in a start-up. Malkani had joined Cisco in 2010 to lead the collaboration technologies team in Asia Pacific, Japan and China. Following Malkani’s exit, Cisco appointed Sameer Garde as its India head.

In August 2017, Sterlite Technologies announced three key leadership appointments. It appointed Nischal Gupta as chief transformation officer, Manish Sinha as CMO and Sanjeev Bedekar as chief delivery and technology officer, telecom services.

In October 2017, Umang Bedi stepped down from his position as MD, Facebook India. He was appointed MD in mid-2016, taking over the India business from Kir­thiga Reddy, who moved to the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, USA. Fur­ther, Facebook named Sandeep Bhu­shan as interim MD of the company.

In October 2017, Check Point Soft­ware Technologies Limited appointed Harsh Marwah as country manager for the India region. Marwah works under the leadership of Bhaskar Bakthavatsalu, MD, India and SAARC, and manages all aspects of the company’s enterprise business.

In October 2017, Ravi Krishnaswamy took charge as chief technology officer (CTO), InMobi, replacing InMobi ­­co-founder Mohit Saxena, who moved to the US but continues his engagement with the co­­m­­­pany. Krishnaswamy previously ­­wor­ked as senior vice-president, ­en­g­i­nee­ring, at Flipkart.

Handset vendors

In February 2017, Xiaomi appointed Manu Kumar Jain as its new global vice-president and MD of India operations. He was earlier serving as head of the company’s India operations. Jain’s promotion followed the exit of Xiaomi’s head of international operations Hugo Barra, who joined Facebook. Later, in December 2017, Xiao­mi appointed Deepak Nakra as offline sales head for the Indian market.  Prior to this, Nakra was business head at Intex.

In February 2017, Vivo Smartphones appointed Ganish Bahl as head of the company’s e-commerce and digital marketing segments. He was earlier working with Mi­cromax as its digital marketing head.

In February 2017, Intex Technologies appointed S.P. Subramanian as assistant vice-president (sales) of its mobile business. In his new role, Subramanian handles the sales of the company’s mobile phones in the domestic market. Further, in July 2017, Intex appointed Jayesh Parekh as business head of its consumer durables business. Parekh was earlier working with Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited as vice-president of its sales and distribution vertical. In August 2017, the company appointed Rumpa Roy as head of business excellence.

In March 2017, Lenovo appointed Sudhin Mathur as MD of Motorola Mobi­lity India and also inducted him as a full-time director on the Motorola Mobi­lity India Board. Mathur continues his role of executive director for Lenovo’s mobile busi­ness in India. Further, in April 2017, Lenovo India appointed Vivek Sharma as director of the data centre group (DCG). He reports to Sumir Bhatia, vice-president, DCG, Asia Pacific. He is also a part of Lenovo’s India leadership team led by Rahul Agarwal, India MD and CEO.

In March 2017, Lava International appointed Sunil Raina as its CMO after Solomon Wheeler resigned from the company. Raina was previously working as senior vice-president and business head at Lava’s sub-brand, Xolo, and continues to hold the position along with the new role.

In April 2017, indigenous handset manufacturer Zen Mobile appointed Deepesh Gupta as its CEO. Gupta has been involved with Zen Mobiles since its inception and is the co-founder of the company.

In May 2017, Shubhajit Sen resigned as CMO at Micromax Informatics.  He was re­p­laced by Shubhodip Pal, who is the co­m­­­mercial officer and group head for value added service and online sales at ­Mic­romax. Earlier, Pal was COO at YU ­Te­le­v­entures, a fully owned subsidiary of Micromax.

In August 2017, Anand Vohra, CEO and MD of Gionee India, stepped down from his position after holding the office for nearly five years. However, Vohra continues to serve as executive director of the company. Subsequently, Gionee India ap­pointed David Chang, global sales director, Gionee Communication, to lead the company’s India operations, replacing Vohra.

In November 2017, Samsung promoted two of its senior India executives, Asim Warsi and Dipesh Shah, to global roles. Warsi, who was heading Samsung India’s mobile division, was promoted to global vice-president while Shah, who was earlier MD, Samsung Research and Develop­ment, was elevated to the post of global senior vice-president.

In December 2017, Apple’s India head Sanjay Kaul stepped down from his position. Kaul had been elevated to the position of country manager in May 2016 from sales director and head of iPhone sales, a position he had held since April 2011. Apple has appointed Michael Coulomb to replace Kaul as head of its India operations. Prior to his new role, Coulomb was MD for Apple’s South Asia operations.

Industry associations

In February 2017, the Telecom Equip­ment and Services Export Promotion Co­un­­­cil appointed former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh as its new chairman. It also appointed Sanjay Nayak, CEO of Tejas Networks, as co-chairman.

In May 2017, the Internet and Mobile Association of India announced its new leadership team. Rajan Anandan, ­vice-president for Southeast Asia and India, was appointed as its new chairman. He succeeds Kunal Shah, co-founder and CEO of Freecharge. Meanwhile, Deep Kal­­ra, chairman and group CEO of MakeMyTrip, was appointed vice ­chair­­man. Subho Ray continues to be pre­si­dent of the association. The tenure of the new council is two years.

In November 2017, Atria Convergence Technologies, also called ACT Fibernet, joined the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) as an associate member. China-based ­equipment vendor ZTE India also joined the COAI as an associate ­member in December 2017.