GTB announces 50 women to watch for 2017

Agnes Stubbs
Published on:

This year's list includes CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, research chiefs, regulators, politicians and others leading the telecoms business

1.50 women to watch 680

We asked our readers to nominate the women to watch in our industry. Picking just 50 of them was always going to be a challenge, but this years list include CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, research chiefs, regulators, politicians and others leading the telecoms business. 

Muna Al Hashemi, CEO, Batelco Bahrain 

Appointed CEO of Batelco Bahrain in 2015, Al Hashemi is the first woman to hold a leadership role in a telco in the GCC region. Under her charge, Batelco Bahrain has sought to drive its strategy of innovation in the competitive region through the recent launch of its mobile payment service, connected vehicles and cloud services.

Hélène Barnekow, Executive vice president and CEO Sweden, Telia Company

Barnekow has served as head of Telia Sweden and executive vice president at Telia Sweden since 2015, where she has led the agenda to transform the company into a so-called customer centric “new-generation telco”. She was previously in leadership positions at EMC, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications and Ericsson.

Cheri Beranek, CEO, Clearfield

Beranek has been president and CEO at Clearfield since 2007. The provider of optical fibre management and connectivity has, through her collaborative style of leadership, seen continued fiscal growth, recording eight consecutive years of profitability and posting gains in both the market capitalisation and shareholder equity.  

Kathrin Buvac, Chief strategy officer, Nokia 

Buvac has been chief strategy officer for Nokia since 2016, managing the unit through the company’s €15.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. She is responsible for business, intelligence, corporate development, strategic partnerships, incubation and presiding over the capital allocation across all of Nokia’s portfolios of mobile, fixed, IP/optical networks, applications and analytics, virtual reality, healthcare and patent licensing. Kathrin is also leading the company’s overall strategy in the Internet of Things and is a strong and well known advocate for the advancement of women in tech.

Dawn Callahan, CMO, Boingo Wireless

Following a decade with Time Warner Cable, Callahan joined Boingo Wireless in 2007 and has risen through the ranks to her role as CMO since 2014. In addition to its marketing and communication efforts, Callahan is also responsible for all consumer-driven revenue, as well as its retail Wifi, broadband, media and advertising lines of business which accounts for more than half of the company’s revenue. She is part of the leadership team that led Boingo’s IPO efforts in 2007. 

Safra Catz, Co-CEO, Oracle

An 18-year Oracle veteran, Catz has served as co-CEO since September 2014. She is chief executor of the company’s merger and acquisition strategy, helping close over 85 acquisitions over the past five years - one of which was a deal for cloud-based software company NetSuite for over $9 billion. Catz sat on the executive committee of US president Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. She is also reportedly one of Oracle founder Larry Ellison's closest confidants, having spent 18 years at the company.

Jane Chen, CIO, ZTE, and chairman ZTESoft 

Previously SVP of ZTE since 2002, Chen is presently in charge of research and development and operations management of the company’s fixed-line product division. Chen has led ZTE’s innovations in the smart city area, such as its big data cloud platform. She is also chairman of ZTESoft, a ZTE subsidiary focusing on telecoms IT services.

Anne Chow, President, national business AT&T 

Chow was appointed president of national business at AT&T in April 2017.  She has been serving as president of integrator solutions since January 2016. Chow presently leads over 6,500 business professionals accountable for business customers across the US. With over 25 years in the industry, Chow is credited to have led organizations through major transformations with her innovative growth strategies. 

Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO, Singtel

Chua heads Singapore’s – and Southeast Asia’s – largest telco. With 600 million subscribers across 25 countries, Singtel recorded $51 billion in market capitalisation and earnings of $2.8 billion in 2016 – 70% of which came from overseas operations. She is credited for driving the telco’s move towards digital transformation, beginning with the move to take a stake in Australia’s Optus in 2001. Singtel is presently investing heavily in cyber security.  

Mary Clark, CMO and chief of staff, Syniverse

Clark is responsible for Syniverse’s strategic vision, including communications, branding, strategic events and industry relations. In her past roles as SVP of next-generation roaming services and standards and SVP of roaming, she was instrumental in launching the company’s LTE strategy. Clark holds several executive positions at MACH, CTIA, Cibernet and Cellular One.

Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission 

Clyburn is presently the sole Democrat on the US Federal Communications Commission for which she has been serving her second term since 2013. She has been vocal on the roll back of net neutrality rules, calling it an “all-out assault on America’s small businesses, schools and local economies”. Her term expires June 2017. She is due to be joined by at least one more Democrat, although the FCC seems to be in no rush to appoint anyone. She faces an uphill task curbing Republican plans to rollback the net neutrality rules, however.

Laureen Cook, Principal TMT Advisor, IFC (World Bank)

Cook is a founding director of GTWN, the Global Telecommunications Women’s Network, founded by a handful of C-level women from the telecoms industry some 25 years ago. GTWN works closely with the GSMA in support of its mWomen and Women4Tech initiatives.

She is also principal TMT advisor for the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, responsible for the development of new business and evaluation of TMT investment opportunities in emerging markets.

Marian Croak, VP R&D Access and Emerging Market, Google

Former AT&T exec Marian Croak is heading up Google’s access strategy in emerging markets, having joined the search engine giant in 2014.At AT&T, she was SVP of applications and services infrastructure. Named to that role in 2012, she was responsible for a team of more than 2,000 developers, engineers and program managers who manage over 500 programs impacting AT&T’s enterprise, consumer, and mobility services and create the tools developers inside and outside AT&T are using to build new apps and services. 

Robyn Denholm, COO, Telstra

Denholm left Juniper Networks after nearly 10 years to take on the role of COO at the start of the year, following Kate McKenzie’s departure in July 2016. Most recently, she was vice president, chief financial officer and chief operations officer at Juniper Networks where she played a key role in the company’s 2014 restructure and record revenue and profitability performance in 2015. Denholm sits on the board of Tesla Motors and ABB. 

Fabienne Dulac, CEO, Orange France

Dulac became head of Orange France in 2015, taking over from Delphine Ernotte-Cunci who left to be president of France Télévisions. Since joining the company in 1997, Dulac has served in various capacities such as director of communication, head of Orange North France, director of sales and online customer relations. She holds a Master of Advanced Studies in Political Sociology from the Paris Institute of Political Sciences. After having started a doctoral thesis on the sociology of public action, Dulac began her career at the French Interior Ministry.

Tami Erwin, EVP, wireless operations, Verizon

Erwin has been EVP of operations at Verizon since 2016 where she is responsible for expanding its product portfolio as well as growing revenue growth through product launches in the consumer and business-to-business space. In addition, she also spearheads its profitability growth through cost-transformation initiatives. Prior to this, Erwin was SVP and group president of the company’s consumer and mass business markets line of business where she manages sales, marketing, operations, and customer service strategy for voice, data and video services in Verizon’s fixed-line footprint. 

Kimberly Eubank, COO, Vodafone Americas

Eubank was named head of operations at Vodafone Americas in 2016 where she oversees the daily operations for the business unit, including product offer management, customer implementation, service delivery and marketing. She was previously vice president – service excellence for Wolters Kluwer where she led their tax division’s support organisation’s transformation. Prior to that she served in various leadership roles in customer experience and product management at AT&T Mobility.

Kathleen O’Brien Ham, SVP, government affairs, T-Mobile

Ham was promoted to SVP of government affairs for T-Mobile US where she oversees its regulatory and legislative activities at both the federal and state levels. Before this, she was VP of Federal Regulatory Affairs, advocating for the company’s public policy and regulatory issues and working with the FCC and government agencies on issues relating to spectrum, consumer, public safety and competition. Before T-Mobile, she served in various leadership positions at the FCC, including deputy chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. 

Rebecca Jacoby, SVP, operations, Cisco

Jacoby is a Cisco veteran of over two decades. She was promoted to her present role in July 2015 and is tasked with advancing profitable growth strategies and improving operational performance. Jacoby oversees supply chain, IT, customer and partner services, operations architecture, procurement, customer success transformation, employee services and the Security and Trust organisation. She has held various leadership roles in operations, manufacturing, and IT since joining Cisco. 

Kay Kapoor, President, AT&T Global Business, Public Sector Solutions

As president of public sector services, Kapoor is responsible for delivering customised information technology and professional services to the public sector. Her team of over 4,000 delivers innovative network services and managed services, voice and data services, cyber security and mission support to public sector organisations globally, mainly US federal government departments and agencies. 

Allison Kirkby, President and group CEO, Tele2 

Kirkby was appointed group president and CEO of Tele2 in 2015, taking over from Mats Granryd when he became director general of the GSMA. This was after about a year as group CFO at the telco. Prior to that, she spent 25 years in FMCG, media, telecoms and retail businesses. She is also an independent non-executive director and audit chair at UK retailer Greggs, and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Heather Kirksey, Executive director, OPNFV

As executive director of Open Platform for NFV, Kirksey seeks to increase adoption and implementation of open source NFV platform. She manages the entire project, from technology to community and marketing. She previously led strategic technology alliances for MongoDB and has held various leadership positions at Alcatel-Lucent, Broadband Forum, BroadbandHome, Small Cell Forum, UPnP Forum and Home Gateway Initiative.

Mari-Noëlle , Jégo-Laveissière, EVP, innovation, market and technologies, Orange 

Jégo-Laveissière has held various management positions within Orange, such as head of Consumer Marketing France, director of research and development and director of international networks. She was appointed to the executive committee of the Orange Group in March 2014 as executive director of innovation, marketing and technologies.

Honore Labourdette, VP global market development, telco business group, VMWare

Labourdette heads up VMWares projects in the telco space, leading the software firm’s launch of an NFV offering based on it virtual machine platform.

Her experience covers 25 years of working with diverse sectors such as healthcare, finance, retail and telcos; the latter being her core current focus area.

Dominique Leroy, CEO, Proximus

Leroy stepped in to take the helm of Proximus – formerly Belgacom – in 2014 for a six-year term. She joined the company in 2012 as executive vice president of its consumer business unit after over two decades at Unilever. Proximus increased its net profit by 3.8 percent by the end of the year, growing its TV and mobile customers. Leroy is chairwoman of the boards of BICS and Be-Mobile.

Brooks McCorcle, President, AT&T Partner Solutions 

McCorcle leads the majority of AT&T's indirect distribution channels. She runs a business unit with $6 billion in annualised revenues and is tasked with growing the company’s products and services through service providers globally. Last year, McCorcle led her team to launch AT&T Control Center, a cloud-based platform that enables providers to deploy, manage and scale IoT devices, connecting them to the AT&T 4G LTE network.

Catherine Michel, CTO, Sigma Systems

Michel is responsible for the company’s entire product portfolio and strategy. Previously, she was Sigma’s Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and VP of Products, following the acquisition of Tribold in 2013. Michel was founder and CTO of Tribold, and principle architect of the company's products and solutions portfolio. Prior to co-founding Tribold, She was a senior executive in Accenture's Communications & High Tech practice, devising and delivering business strategy and large-scale BSS / OSS solutions globally. 

Michel also sits on the TM Forum Executive Committee. Michel regularly advises service provider CxO’s and industry analysts on how to transform into digital savvy businesses for the digital economy, frequently appearing on stage and in written publications.

Maxine Moreau, EVP, consumer, CenturyLink 

Moreau is responsible for CenturyLink’s sales, marketing, and service delivery for local market consumer operations in 37 states. She also oversees the overall profit and loss and the customer experience. Prior to her current role, Moreau served as executive vice president of Global Operations, responsible for the end-to-end planning, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of CenturyLink’s US fibre network and international transport network.

Jeni Mundy , Group enterprise product management director, Vodafone

Mundy leads Vodafone’s strategy, delivery and lifecycle management of the product portfolio worldwide. She has been with Vodafone since 1998. Her roles include five years as CTO in Vodafone New Zealand managing IT and the mobile network, five years as the Vodafone UK CTO and a year leading the Northern Europe Sales team for multi-national customers.

Kate McKenzie, CEO, Chorus 

The former Telstra COO replaced Mark Ratcliffe as CEO of the New Zealand company from February 2017. She is in charge of the the rollout of its ultrafast broadband and will focus on customer experience. McKenzie announced her resignation from Telstra in July 2016 following a series of network outages. 

Claudia Nemat, Chief technology and innovation officer, Deutsche Telekom 

Nemat has led the new board area technology and innovation since January 2017. The appointment is part of a move by Deutsche Telekom to create a innovation and technology area within the board, tasked with focusing on software-defined networks, virtualisation and cloud services. Nemat was responsible for the board area Europe and Technology until the end of 2016. 

Gina Nomellini, CMO, GTT 

Nomellini joined GTT as chief marketing officer in 2015. Since then, she has led its global brand development and messaging, marketing communications, product development and product management. Prior to this, she held leadership positions in marketing at One Source Networks, Telstra and Level 3 Communications. 

Uche Ofodile, Regional head, Africa for Express Wi-Fi, Facebook

Former CEO of Tigo DRC, Ofodile was appointed regional head of Facebook's Africa for Express Wifi in February 2017. In her latest role, she is charged with helping expand connectivity to underserved locations around through the world through Wifi. Ofodile is credited to have rebuilt Tigo DRC's business strategy. Prior to that, she was chief marketing officer of Vodafone Ghana, as well as chief commercial officer with MTS.

Funke Opeke, CEO, MainOne 

Opeke launched MainOne in 2008 after two decades in the industry in the US where she was executive director of Verizon Communications wholesale division. The company would go on to build West Africa’s first privately-owned submarine cable system, measuring 7,000km, interconnecting Nigeria and Portugal. She obtained a bachelor and master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University and Columbia University respectively. After she graduated from Columbia University, she joined Verizon.

Nicola Palmer, Chief network officer, Verizon Wireless

Palmer is responsible for planning, engineering, building and operating Verizon Wireless’s voice and data networks, including the company’s 4G LTE network. She was previously in charge of the planning, design and operation of Verizon’s global voice, data and IP networks, which span over 2,600 cities in 150 countries. Palmer has also led the engineering and operational efforts of the fibre to the premises networks. Palmer began her career at Bell Atlantic in 1990 and has held a number of leadership positions in engineering, operations, and project and service management supporting advanced data and IP products.

She earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Penn State University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.  

Ronnie Klingner, President, mobility and digital services, PCCW Global 

Klingner has been at PCCW Global for the last 14 years. In her latest role, she is charged with growing PCCW Global’s mobility, security and digital communication services. Klingner leads a team that covers software development, product, operations, engineering and sales. Prior to this, she was president of voice services.

Laurinda Pang, regional president, Level 3 Communications

Pang heads up operations in the Asia-Pacific and North America for Level 3 Communications, which is set to merge with CentruyLink. She is responsible for sales, revenue generation and enterprise service delivery for the merged company’s top global accounts. Pang is said to be instrumental in driving key business initiatives and the development of corporate strategies at the company.

Maria Grazia Pecorari President, digital, global portfolio and marketing, Global Services, BT 

Pecorari joined BT from consulting firm Bain & Company in 2014 to lead the strategy for BT's Global Services unit where she was tasked with making the company a partner of choice for network and IT infrastructure services. As of April 2017, her role has evolved to that of chief strategy and digital officer with complete responsibility over BT's global portfolio and marketing teams. 

Jenifer Robertson, SVP, tech strategy and portfolio implementation, AT&T

Robertson is responsible for developing end to end strategy for the technology development organisation, overseeing integrated strategic programmes and the technology investment portfolio for AT&T Technology and Operations. She previously led corporate strategy initiatives designed to provide thought leadership and drive leadership decision making on strategic business opportunities.

Michelle Senecal de Fonseca, VP for Northern Europe, Citrix

Senecal de Fonseca assumed her role as area vice president of Northern Europe in January 2017. She is responsible for the growth and development of Citrix’s sales and services operations in the Northern Europe region by increasing revenues through a growth strategy and cultivating the company’s valued partner ecosystem. She was previously global managing director for Vodafone Cloud and Hosting Services, part of the Vodafone Global Enterprise group. 

Philisiwe Gugulethu Sibiya, CEO, MTN Cameroon

Sibiya was appointed CEO of MTN Cameroon in 2015. Prior to her appointment at MTN Cameroon, she occupied several senior management positions at MTN South Africa and MTN Group. Before joining MTN Group in 2005, she worked for Arthur Andersen, Primedia and Cell C in South Africa. a creative problem-solver with broad range of skills, communicates her ideas clearly, follows tasks through to completion, gets along well with others, handles responsibility well, has a take-charge personality, has a flair for organization.

Ruza Sabanovic, EVP and head of technologies and services, Telenor

Sabanovic has been head of technologies and services at Telenor since April 2016 and EVP since 2015. She was previously head of services and operations at Telenor and chief technology officer, as well as head of group technology. Prior to that, she served as chief operating officer at Telenor India and also headed group network function.

Sun Yafang, Chairman, Huawei Technologies

Known as “Queen of Huawei”, Sun has held the position of chairman since 1999. She is said to be credited as the key contributor to the development of Huawei’s marketing and sales division and human resources leadership development. She is also spearheading the company’s continued international expansion in Europe and emerging markets like Myanmar, where the company controls roughly half the smartphone market. 

Jennifer Tan Yuen Chun COO, Hutchison Telecoms

Tan was appointed COO of the group in 2014. She joined the group in 1996, was finance director of Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) from 2000, chief financial officer at HTHK and Hutchison Global Communications in 2005 and managing director of fixed-line business of the group in 2012.

She joined Hutchison in 1996. She joined the HWL Group on May 1996. Prior to Hutchison Telecom, Ms. Tan gained extensive financial management experience with various Fortune 500 multinational organisations

Serpil Timuray, Chief commercial operations and strategy officer, Vodafone Turkey 

Timuray, the most senior female executive of the Vodafone Group, assumed her  latest role of the $62 billion-in-revenue group in October 2016. She was previously chief executive of the AMAP region and a member of the group executive committee since 2014. She joined Vodafone as CEO of Vodafone Turkey in 2009 and was previously general manager of Danone Turkey. 

Margrethe Vestager, Competition commissioner, European Commission

Since her appointment to European competition commissioner in 2014, Vestager has taken the fight to some of the world’s largest companies, bringing antitrust charges against the likes of Google and Apple. The Danish politician has consistently touted fair play and opportunity for all as the bedrock of all her decisions. She previously served as a member of the Danish Parliament, education minister, economy minister and deputy prime minister. Vestager has taken on a reputation as being anti-consolidation, ahving turned down mergers between Three UK and O2, and imposed strict requirements on Telia (then TeliaSonera) and Telenor's Danish merger, leading the companies to cancel it. However, Vestager did approve recent mergers in Italy, claiming she is more concerned with protecting competition.

Radhika Venkatraman, SVP, CIO, Verizon 

Venkatraman is charged with supporting new network technology and all the operating systems for network products offered to consumer, enterprise and wholesale customers globally. As part of her role, she also oversees analytics and is responsible for transforming its networks to become SDN and NFV-based. Prior to this, Venkatraman was the vice president for IT - Enterprise Sales Life Cycle and Ordering systems where she led a global team of 1,200 professionals to change the way Verizon delivers services to its enterprise clients.

Karen Walker, SVP and CMO, Cisco 

Walker was promoted to her present role in 2015 where she heads Cisco’s marketing and communications as well as its government and community relations groups. She has served at Cisco since 2009 in various roles, most recently as SVP of marketing where she was in charge of its integrated marketing plan, from strategy to in-country execution of brand campaigns and marketing programmes. Prior to joining Cisco, Walker held business and consumer leadership positions at Hewlett-Packard. 

Gunn Wærsted, Chair, Telenor Board 

Wærsted was appointed to her position as chair in January 2016 charged with the task to reform Telenor in response to its investments in affiliate Vimpelcom. The latter was fined $795 million to settle US and Dutch probes into a bribery scheme in Uzbekistan. Prior to that Wærsted served as as EVP and member of the group executive management in Nordea bank and country senior executive in Nordea Bank Norway. 

Sharon White, CEO, Ofcom 

White was appointed chief of the UK media regulator after two years as second permanent secretary at HM Treasury. She is the first black person and second woman to be appointed to the role. Her position will come under greater focus following Brexit. White has said domestic regulators will play a bigger role in vetting deals as powers come back from the EU. Major upcoming challenges for White include enacting the seperation of Openreach from BT, numerous spectrum auctions, and the implication of the EU Roaming rules, not to mention Brexit and how that might impact the market.