Top 40

Most influential women in mobile

Last year we compiled a list of the most influential people in the mobile industry. It was a fascinating exercise, and one that proved controversial in places. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the list was who wasn’t on it. If the top jobs are dominated by men, who are the most senior women in the industry, and what are their jobs?

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media

Probably the most influential woman in the mobile industry, Commissioner Reding has not won a great deal of friends among mobile operators. Whether you see her as a slick, populist politician interfering in a market that is best left to set its own levels, or as a consumer champion who has broken the back of cosy operator pricing cartels, there is no denying her impact.

Ren Zhengfei, founder and chairman, Huawei

Since founding the firm in 1988, Ren Zhengfei has built Chinese vendor Huawei into arguably the most disruptive infrastructure player in the mobile market. When the next of the big name vendors exits the market through one route or another, and it really is a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’, then it won’t be an exaggeration to lay a portion of the responsibility for this at Huawei’s door.

Andy Rubin, head of mobile platforms, Google

Google tends to get what it wants, and what it wants from Andy Rubin is a smartphone platform that can rival the likes of Symbian and Apple. Rubin’s Android platform has offered an alternative to handset vendors concerned that, by sticking with Symbian, they will effectively be strengthening Nokia, their number one competitor.

Dr. Saad al Barrak, chairman, Zain

The man behind one of the most remarkable growth stories of recent years, Saad al Barrak has built Zain into the dominant cellular force in the MEA region. He now boasts operations in 22 countries and a customer base approaching 65 million at the end of Q109.

Patrick Slim Domit, chairman America Movil

The son of Carlos Slim, one of the three richest men in the world, Patrick Slim Domit inherited from his father the number one spot at the third largest mobile carrier group in the world, by subscriber numbers.

Dr Sultan A. Bahabri, chairman Hits Telecom

A medical doctor by training, Sultan A.Bahabri was drawn to the telecommunications field by the possibilities it offered for e-health initiatives. He founded Hits Telecom to bid for the second GSM licence in Saudi Arabia in 2003. While his bid was unsuccessful (as was a second attempt, losing to Zain in 2007), Hits went into business with licence winner Etisalat, providing customer care and distribution services.

JK Shin, head of Samsung Mobile Communications

Korean vendor Samsung has established itself as the closest thing Nokia has to a challenger in the global mobile handset market, and JK Shin is the man leading the charge. With a market share hovering just above 19 per cent at the end of the first quarter of 2009 from sales of 51.4 million units, Shin’s approach to the handset market is distinctly promiscuous.

Stephen Hayes, chairman, 3GPP Systems Group

As a principal engineer at Ericsson, Stephen Hayes has been extensively involved in the development of GSM and related systems such as LTE and IMS over the past ten years. He also holds a number of patents in the area of telecommunications.

Dr. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm

Having taken over from his father Irwin at the family firm, Paul Jacobs now presides over an intellectual property portfolio that comprises well in excess of 10,000 US patents related to wireless technologies, which are licensed by 165 other companies within the industry. Through the firm’s QCT (Qualcomm CDMA Technologies) arm, meanwhile, he oversees the largest wireless chipset production house in the business.

Ilja Laurs, founder and CEO of GetJar

Serial entrepreneur Ilja Laurs currently holds the position of chief executive of the world’s largest open mobile application store, GetJar, which he founded in 2005.

Didier Lombard, president and CEO, France Telecom

As the man who controls the Orange brand—once the benchmark for mobile branding—Didier Lombard has more than 101 million mobile customers (proportionate, Informa Telecoms & Media WCIS), predominantly in Europe and Africa.

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

Mike Lazaridis founded BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) while still a student at the University of Waterloo, a decision which led him to drop out of school just two months before graduation. A noted philanthropist in science and computing projects, Lazaridis is the driving force behind RIM’s technology and innovation.

Andrew Lees, senior vice president, mobile communications, Microsoft

Andrew Lees is responsible for guiding Microsoft’s global mobile communications strategy for business and consumer customers, overseeing the development, marketing and sales of Microsoft software and services for mobile devices, including Windows Mobile and Live mobile.

Masayoshi Son, Chairman, Softbank Group

Ranked by Forbes as Japan’s fifth richest man (he made his first million while still a university student in California) Masayoshi Son is the chairman of Japanese tech investment firm Softbank.

Simon Beresford Wylie, CEO, Nokia Siemens Networks

Beresford Wylie joined Nokia in 1998, and has had responsibility for the merged Nokia Siemens Networks since it was created in 2007. Almost immediately the problems began, with the firm issuing a profit warning. Along with Alcatel Lucent, NSN has proven how complicated it is to manage a merger of such scale.

Andrea Casalini, CEO, Buongiorno

Andrea Casalini has been CEO of Italian mobile content firm Buongiorno since April 2000, and is credited with steering the development of the company from a startup to its current position as one of the largest players in the mobile content space.

Peter Chou, CEO HTC

Taiwanese handset vendor HTC has been positioned by CEO Chou to play exclusively in the smartphone space. Starting out with Windows Mobile-based products that were re-badged by operators, the firm has more recently staked its claim in the Android arena, bringing to market the first three handsets based on the Google-owned operating system.

Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Group

The CEO of the world’s largest international carrier by revenue and footprint, Vittorio Colao was absorbed into the Vodafone machine when the UK carrier took over Italian operation Omnitel Pronto Italia as part of its acquisition of Mannesmann in 2000.