Rajiv Nayyar, chief operating officer, Lightstorm Telecom, co-founded the company about two years ago. His abilities in running, managing and growing multi-million dollar businesses helped him position the company as an operating consultant and partner to large private equity investors. Lightstorm is currently working with an infrastructure-focused investor that plans to invest in the Indian telecom sector.

Nayyar believes that the Indian telecom sector faces unique challenges, in the form of low average revenue per user, highest taxation indices and costly spectrum, which adversely affect financial performance. However, amidst these challenges, he sees an opportunity arising from operators divesting their non-core assets to deleverage their balance sheets, akin to what happened over a decade ago with the formation of tower companies. “The year 2019 will be a defining year for the sector,” he says. “Having assets that are capital extensive and underutilised makes a case for more neutral telecom infrastructure players to emerge.” He foresees India becoming the fastest growing optical networking market globally in the next five years. “The country needs doubling or tripling of the currently installed fibre base,” he notes. The telecom space will see an exponential growth in broadband devices during the next three years, higher capex spending on infrastructure, the emergence of new business models  and an increasing role of data analytics and IoT in operators’ consumer on-boarding strategies. “5G is still in the distant future; we do not  have infrastructure to execute  even 4G speeds,” he says.

During his professional journey, Nayyar has held senior management roles across diverse portfolios in Fortune 500 companies as well as mid-size organisations including Ericsson, UT Starcom, HCL, Sterlite Tech and Mauj Mobile. While all his assignments have supplemented his competence and knowledge, his recent entrepreneurial journey has been the most memorable one for him. “As an entrepreneur, I am able to effectively utilise the experience and skills I have gained through my career,” he says.

Nayyar practises the 5Cs formula of leadership that he learnt in a session chaired by Indra Nooyi: competence, courage, conviction, communications and compass. Nayyar is a mechanical engineer and has also done many advanced management courses from global universities. An avid golfer, he likes to catch a round of golf on weekends. He also enjoys reading, listening to music and cooking.