CTO of the Year 2019 - celebrating technology excellence at mobile network operators



Since launching six years ago, Mobile Europe’s CTO of the Year award has quickly established itself as an essential part of the European telecoms industry. This year's awards are now open for entry and will celebrate the achievements of operators across Europe, from the largest Groups with strategies that straddle several time zones, to regional players making the most of their agile size. Coupled with these awards is a must-attend roundtable, where CTOs from across the continent discuss the burning issues affecting them and their organisations.

There are issues a-plenty to explore. The industry is ever closer to the tipping point when 5G becomes less a market abstract and more of a reality. Trials and demonstrations are starting to be replaced by deployment timetables. Both part of and separate to the 5G debate is the Internet of Things. CTOs have been tasked with choosing the right technology and deployment strategy with the pressure that if they get it right, it could unlock much needed new revenue streams.

On top of 5G and the IoT, operators have been undergoing the shift to software defined networks, further improving the quality of their LTE networks and ensuring technology is at the top of the boardroom agenda.

This year's awards celebrate the diverse achievements of CTOs from across Europe. Mobile Europe Editor Annie Turner said: "The CTO of the Year awards celebrate an integral role in a modern operator. Technology underpins the success of any telco and CTOs need to juggle hardware and software skills, strategic thinking and the ability to ensure technology is at the centre of an operator's strategy. The past winners of the awards have been great exemplars of those skills. I look forward to seeing the 2019 entries and urge every operator to get involved."

The 2019 awards are kindly sponsored by MYCOM OSI. The company's Global Head of Marketing Ian Meakin said: "We are happy to once again support Mobile Europe in acknowledging the great work CTOs do at this time of seismic shifts in the industry. From our own experience working with Tier 1 CSP CTOs, we see the challenges these individuals and their teams face, and the innovative solutions they deliver. The Awards and the Roundtable discussion offer a perfect opportunity to listen to and appreciate their achievements, as well as hear about the challenges ahead.”

How the awards work

In 2019, there are two awards up for grabs once again.

The first is for Group CTO of the Year, which is open to any CTO responsible for technology strategy across a number of markets. Who will follow last year's winner Johan Wilbergh from Vodafone?

The regional CTO of the Year award is open to an executive who is either working in an opco of a larger mobile network operator, or in charge of technology strategy within a standalone operator, like last year’s winner – Turkcell’s Gediz Sezgin.

Previous winners include Yogesh Malik (VEON), Geert Standaert (Proximus), Bruno Jacobfeuerborn (Deutsche Telekom), Enrique Blanco (Telefónica) and Fotis Karonis (EE).

2019 looks set to be another pivotal year for the mobile industry with operators looking to take advantage of new technology, adjust to the ever changing consumer and enterprise landscape and build an operator for the decade ahead. We look forward to applauding the best that the European telecoms industry has to offer.





Candidates for the 2019 CTO of the Year award must demonstrate their achievements in the following categories:


The execution of network changing projects during the past 12 months, such as extension of LTE coverage, or launch of voice over LTE.


The implementation and leadership of new technology, such as software defined networking or network function virtualisation, NB-IoT or other cutting edge services.


How customers have responded to the CTO's work, whether it's low levels of churn, high acquisition of customers, or adoption of new technology


How they have affected change within the industry, influenced peers and set the agenda with telecoms

Previous winners

Group CTO of the Year 2018 – Johan Wilbergh, Vodafone

Wibergh was lauded for leading Vodafone's extensive 5G innovation strategy, which has spanned its different markets across Europe. The judging panel also noted his influence in steering the agenda of the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance as its Chairman and focus on improving the performance of Vodafone's networks worldwide.

Regional CTO of the Year 2018 – Gediz Sezgin, Turkcell

Gediz Sezgin was singled out by the judging panel for juggling numerous innovative projects. Sezgin has worked on a nationally produced base station, worked extensively on virtualisation projects and led a shift in the operator's strategy from a conventional communication service provider to digital service provider

Group CTO of the Year 2017 – Yogesh Malik, VEON

Yogesh Malik was a worthy winner of last year’s award, impressing judges with his dedication to network transformation, overseeing substantive virtualisation projects across five of the operator’s markets.

A strong advocate of change, Malik is an exemplar of how a CTO needs to push their company into uncharted waters and realises that the old way of doing things is not necessarily the best way.

Regional CTO of the Year 2017 – Geert Standaert, Proximus

Geert Standaert showed how size sometimes doesn’t matter when it comes to innovating at the level of its larger counterparts. He stood out for his work within the Internet of Things, jumping early and ambitiously in backing the LoRa standard and placing Proximus at the centre of the technology’s deployment.

He also impressed judges with a wide-ranging approach to telecoms, spanning LTE invention, small cell deployment and experimentation with virtualisation.

CTO of the Year 2016 - Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom’s Bruno Jacobfeuerborn swept to victory as 2016’s CTO of the Year, wowing the judging panel with his broad approach to technology across the Group’s businesses, and his focus on customer facing projects.

Key achievements included his leadership of Deutsche Telekom’s shift towards an all-IP network, ongoing rollout of LTE and innovation within 5G. As chairman of the cross-industry NGMN group, Jacobfeuerborn has been leading the development of 5G standards and use cases.

You can watch an exclusive interview with Jacobfeuerborn below.

CTO of the Year 2015 - Fotis Karonis, EE

EE’s Fotis Karonis’s highly aggressive and one of a kind LTE rollout strategy was at the heart of his CTO of the Year win.

He was hailed by judges as an enthusiastic proponent of technology and its benefits, as well as being savvy enough to handle multiple network transformation projects at the same time.

Since winning the award, he has stepped up to become Managing Director for IT and Mobile Technology across the BT and EE Group.

CTO of the Year 2014 – Enrique Blanco, Telefónica

Telefónica's Enrique Blanco’s reforming zeal for virtualisation impressed the judging panel of the inaugural CTO of the Year award.

Rather than prevaricate, he took the opportunity of the technology and ran with it in an array of trials and rollouts across the company.

He demonstrated the necessary ability of top level CTOs to gamble with new technology, realise its benefits and learn quickly from any mistakes.

Roundtable and Award Presentation

The winners will be presented with their awards at an exclusive CTO roundtable and awards dinner due to take place on on 23rd May 2019 at London’s Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel.

The shortlist of candidates will be announced on www.mobileeurope.co.uk ahead of the judging process in April.

The dinner provides an excellent opportunity to network with fellow CTOs, share ideas and discuss the key trends affecting your role and the wider telecoms industry.


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