It does not seem so long ago that I was making my way to Madrid to interview Petra Mateos-Aparicio, chairwoman, Hispasat, who was deservedly crowned Via Satellite 2010 executive of the year. Fast-forward almost 12 months, and we are getting ready to crown the 2011 winner. I have been involved in the judging process for about five of these award nominations, and I can safely say that it never gets any easier to choose the winners.
We are quite pleased with the six nominees this year. They represent a wide sample of all that is good about our industry and have all demonstrated strong leadership skills in their respective fields. Picking one from these six will not be an easy task.
The truth is, every year, we find that getting down to five or six nominees is difficult. In 2011, there were several companies performing strongly, and a lot of innovative, bold business plans that we saw as close to coming to fruition, but were not quite there yet. In the next few years, there will be many exciting satellite launches to look forward to, whether they are big individual satellites or entire constellations of satellites. No one can accuse the industry of standing still.
From innovative hosted payload deals to moves into Ka-band, the industry is making some huge bets right now, and there seems to be an added zeal amongst all about satellite’s role as the communications/broadcast landscape evolves.
A particularly interesting interview we have this month is on that very topic. Neelie Kroes is one of the European Commission’s vice president’s and is responsible for shaping Europe’s digital future and agenda. You could say she is at the sharp-end of things. One of the frustrations has been the lack of perceived recognition from those outside of the satellite industry regarding the benefits that satellite can bring when reducing digital divides.
As a politician, it was interesting to hear Kroes’ insights into how satellite players can help Europe in pursuing an ambitious digital agenda. Encouragingly, she admits that this is an exciting time for the satellite industry, and while understandably does not want to be seen favoring one technology over another, is cautiously optimistic about satellite’s role in Europe’s digital future.
We live in a connected world, and connecting the un-connected remains a major challenge for policymakers such as Kroes everywhere. Thanks to innovation in the satellite industry and a number of executives driving change, it is likely to become a lot easier for policymakers to achieve these ambitions.