What’s your name and where do you currently work?
Sid Ahlawat CEO, Airtel-Vodafone
Tell us about yourself:
I have over 20 years of experience in Sales and Service Delivery and Business Launch and Development, having worked in Mobile Telecommunications (Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel) and Hotel Management (Taj Group of Hotels). I have been with Airtel-Vodafone since its inception in the Channel Islands in 2006 and have been CEO since 2016.
Can you give a brief overview of what you are doing at TechWeek?
Personally, I was on a telco industry panel session discussing the initiatives undertaken by Airtel-Vodafone in response to Covid-19.
As a provider of critical infrastructure, the telecommunications industry has a vital role to play during the pandemic in keeping people seamlessly connected to their friends and family, as well as enabling remote working for our business customers.
As a business we are also sponsoring one of the sessions – Digital Health Tech Transformation. One of the key lessons to come from Covid is the ever-growing importance of mobile technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) technology in supporting new ways of working that can increase safety, operational efficiency and the reduce the burden on Jersey taxpayers. Health care is a prime example where technology can deliver many societal and economic benefits.
What’s new and exciting in your field for 2020?
The Acquisition of OneWeb for $1 Billion by our holding company i.e. Bharti Global in partnership with the British Government to launch ‘internet from space’ and ‘global GPS solutions’
The Launch of our NB IoT network
Supporting Island government, community, and both consumers and business users during Covid19.
What figure in your industry do you admire and why?
Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal – Chairman and founder of the Bharti Group.
Apart from admiring how he created from nothing to such a big empire with market cap of more than $23 Billion with an insatiable hunger for success, I also admire how like most successful entrepreneurs in the world, he has not been afraid to take on untested working models, has believed in himself and backed his own instincts.
What innovation in your industry do you think has been a game-changer and why?
The Channel Islands have Smart Island ambitions, so I’m really excited about the potential that IoT technology has to help governments and industry to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges such as congestion, traffic, pollution, crime, as well as improving efficiency in energy use, supply chain and smart city applications.
Are you aware of any significant development or innovation in the pipeline that you believe will be important in your sector?
In the telco sector I expect future technology such as 5G will offer a genuine opportunity to accelerate the benefits of digital transformation.
How do you think the Channel Islands can become a ‘player’ in the field of fintech/medtech/AI/…….
The Channel Islands has a world class telecommunications infrastructure i.e. three 4G networks and Fibre, and is the ideal test bed for tech innovation.
For example, Airtel-Vodafone recently gained NB IoT open lab status from the global telco industry standard body, the GSMA. This means that any IoT platform enabler, partner or vendor can come to the islands with their idea, applications, devices and chip sets for a trial or to develop any proof of concept in a secure & safe live environment that’s no less than any global industry standards.
So, the infrastructure is here and organisations such as Digital Jersey and Digital Greenhouse do a great job in pushing education and upskilling further up the agenda to develop the appropriate digital workforce of the future, and perhaps now is the time to make further effort to attract tech start up entrepreneurs to the islands.
The way in which the Islands government have dealt with Covid-19 has gained a lot of positive international media attention, showing the islands in an even better light and a great place to live.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
What do you do in your downtime?
Photography! Follow pictures of beautiful Jersey taken by me on Instagram @sid_ahlawat.
Interview with Rosie Allsopp from Channel Eye Media, our TechWeek Media Partner.