Top 40 to watch in mobile

Big hitters: 40 leaders who are shaping the industry

Big hitters: 40 leaders who are shaping the industry

Under the influence

Who really holds the reins in the mobile communications industry?  This is a question with an endless answer, so intricate and complex are the webs which create the mobile services on which billions of people rely every day.

The mobile communications sector is chock full of influential people, so compiling a list of 40 key executives is not a simple task. There were hundreds of people that could have been included and so this list is by no means exhaustive. It does, however give an idea of who some of the most powerful people in mobile are. It’s not always the CEOs, for example. A rung or two down the ladder are the people directly responsible for developing products, setting individual strategies and planning out the future of the industry.

And not all the large companies in the industry are represented because there simply wasn’t room. Some entries (or absences) might surprise the reader, but subjectivity is inherent in any list like this. Some entries are there simply because we think they’re interesting. These people may not wield billion dollar budgets, but the impact of their work is certainly being felt.

It’s important to remember, as well, that this is not a ranking. We’re not saying that the person at the front of the list is more important than the person at the back; the entries are in alphabetical order.  No doubt readers will have their own opinions to add, and we’d love to hear them. Please  let us know what you think.

César Alierta Izuel, chairman, Telefónica

César Alierta Izuel, Telefónica

Vivek Badrinath, chairman, Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance

Vivek Badrinath, NGNMA

Simon Beresford Wylie, CEO, Nokia Siemens Networks

Simon Beresford Wylie, NSN

Andrew Bud, co-founder and executive chairman, mBlox

Andrew Bud,

Andrea Casalini, CEO, Buongiorno

Andrea Casalini, Buongiorno

Peter Chou, CEO HTC

Peter Chou,

Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Group

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone Group

Jay Freeman, founder, Cydia

Jay Freeman,

Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone Software, Apple

Scott Forstall,

Morgan Gillis, executive director LiMO Foundation

Morgan Gillis, LiMO Foundation

Dr. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm

Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm

Stephen Hayes, chairman, 3GPP Systems Group

Stephen Hayes, 3GPP SG

Mitsunobu Komori, CTO and managing director of R&D Centre, NTT DoCoMo

Mitsunobu Komori, NTT DoCoMo

Ilja Laurs, founder and CEO of GetJar

Ilja Laurs,

Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-CEO, Research In Motion (RIM)

Mike Lazaridis, Research In Motion

Andrew Lees, senior vice president, mobile communications, Microsoft

Andrew Lees, Microsoft

Didier Lombard, president and CEO, France Telecom

Didier Lombard, France Telecom

Masayoshi Son, Chairman, Softbank Group

Masayoshi Son, Softbank Group

Lowell McAdam, president and CEO, Verizon Wireless

Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and CEO, Bharti Enterprises

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Bharti Enterprises

Bill Morrow, CEO Clearwire

Bill Morrow, Clearwire

Boris Nemsic, CEO Vimpelcom

Boris Nemsic, Vimpelcom

Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer, GSM Association

Michael O’Hara, GSM Association

René Obermann, chief executive officer, Deutsche Telekom

René Obermann, Deutsche Telekom

Dr. Kai Öistämö, Nokia

Dr. Kai Öistämö, Nokia

Dr. Tero Ojanperä, Nokia

Dr. Tero Ojanperä,


Chamath Palihapitiya, VP of growth, mobile and international, Facebook

Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media

Viviane Reding, European Commission

Ren Zhengfei, founder and chairman, Huawei

Ren Zhengfei,

Andy Rubin, head of mobile platforms, Google

Andy Rubin,


Dr. Saad al Barrak, chairman, Zain

Dr. Saad al Barrak, Zain

Patrick Slim Domit, chairman America Movil

Patrick Slim Domit, America Movil

K Shin, head of Samsung Mobile Communications

K Shin, Samsung Mobile

Dr Sultan A. Bahabri, chairman Hits Telecom

Sultan A. Bahabri, Hits Telecom

Dr Hamadoun Touré, secretary general, International Telecommunications Union

Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU

Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel Lucent

Ben Verwaayen, Alcatel Lucent

Hans Vestberg, CEO designate, Ericsson

Hans Vestberg, Ericsson

Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera

Jon von Tetzchner, Opera

Wang Jianzhou, chairman and CEO, China Mobile

Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile

Lee Williams, executive director, Symbian Foundation

Lee Williams, Symbian Foundation



  1. Avatar rmac 10/08/2009 @ 2:31 pm

    what about MTN ? they have got to be higher up the ranking than Zain – with all due respect ?

    • Avatar James Middleton 10/08/2009 @ 2:48 pm

      Hi rmac,
      It’s a list of the top 40 people to watch in the mobile space, not companies. But we’d love to hear readers’ opinions.

      • Avatar Christophe 12/08/2009 @ 3:08 pm

        I am also surprise not to see Vodafone in the list!

  2. Avatar JEB 10/08/2009 @ 3:07 pm

    Jay Freeman of Cydia alongside Scott Forstall of Apple.


  3. Avatar iPhone App Developer 10/08/2009 @ 4:33 pm

    I’m very pleased that telecoms.com have created this list – I like the fact you’ve delved beneath to find the people driving mobile.
    I think it would be fascinating to keep in going for a few years to see the movement as our incredible industry progresses.

  4. Avatar Sarah 13/08/2009 @ 1:29 pm

    You include Samsung Mobile and not LG Mobile? LG has been pushing usability forward for several years now, while creating mass-market phones that fit needs for all different people. They’ve made it to the “top 3”, and done it with creative thinking, solid SW and quality hardware.

  5. Avatar peter tatischev 18/08/2009 @ 12:14 pm

    If you’re including Boris Nemsic it could probably make sense to include Alexander Izosimov who made Vimpelcom what it is now. I’m not sure what he’s up to now, but I’m sure that a person with such a track-record is the man to follow. But then again, it could also make sense to have Arun Sarin on the list as well.

  6. Avatar Ap Reader 18/08/2009 @ 12:54 pm

    Wow?! Really? When do CEOs of huge monolith followers ever make revolutionary direction setting decisions? Seems a pretty easy plug – wouldn’t change be driven by some engineer buried in a hole somewhere? And one woman & one black person seems to linear…

  7. Avatar Tarek Abdel Hamid 18/08/2009 @ 3:00 pm

    I’m really surprised that the list doesn’t include Naguib Sawiris ceo and founder of Weather Investments and Orascom Telecom..

  8. Avatar Miebi Senge 18/08/2009 @ 4:08 pm

    With all due respect, but I think you’re missing out an African name: Mr. Ernest Ndukwe. He is probably the most influential African in the mobile business. As chief regulator of the Nigerian mobile industry, Ndukwe has won great respect and admiration from operators, consumers and governments. Transparency has always been his watchword in the industry. His drive has seen the growth of the mobile industry from a mere 400,000 subscribers in 1999 to an all time 68 million by end of July 2009.

  9. Avatar Karl Galea 18/08/2009 @ 4:15 pm

    I think we need more females in the list.

  10. Avatar anonymous 19/08/2009 @ 3:33 am

    What a narrow view!!
    What about Telkomsel (Indonesia) senior management who has more than 70 million subs? Perhaps the largest prepaid subs in the world, with more than 65% EBITDA!
    What about SMART (Philippines) who pioneered micro payment using its stored value in the prepaid SIM Card?
    What about NTT-DoCoMo, who perhaps has the most exptensive Location Based Service products, and managed to nurture and incubate more than 20,000 application developer???
    You guys are so narrow, and you called yourself Leading Telco publiser?
    What a shame….

    The operators world are dominated by the Asians! The vendor world may still be dominated by the likes of NOK, ALU, ERIC, but mark my word, it will not be for long!!!!

  11. Avatar Klaus 20/08/2009 @ 8:14 pm

    Unfortunately not a single woman here… still way to go for women in the technology career.. hope that this improves in next year list.

  12. Avatar Bridget Fishleigh 21/08/2009 @ 10:46 am

    I agree that this isn’t really a list of the innovative people who are changing the telecoms landscape. When I was in India this week someone from the regulator there said that Rajiv Mehrotra is the most important person in Indian telecoms. He’s the founder and inspiration behind VNL which has developed solar powered GSM base stations for use in areas where ARPUs are less than $2 a month. http://www.vnl.in Because this is a start-up vendor not known to MCI he won’t make this list. But as he has found a way for operators to build sustainable business models to connect the next xx billion then maybe he should.

  13. Avatar Malcolm 23/08/2009 @ 12:08 am

    I think MTN’s Phuthuma Nhleko should have been on this list. He is shaping the telecoms future in Emerging markets.

  14. Avatar Mehdi 04/09/2009 @ 12:24 pm

    What about Motorola leaders in this list, definitely Top40 is not enough considering all the comments and the missing people in the industry..

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