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Celebrating Kaul’s Efforts While Looking Toward 2009

By | March 1, 2009

      Pradman Kaul is a very worthy winner of the 2008 Satellite Executive of the Year award, but as so often happens in the modern world, we move immediately from the celebration to forecasting about who the next winner will be. And it looks like there will be a long list of potential nominees.

      The first place to look is the six nominees for the 2008 award. The fact that they did not win this year does not diminish their collective accomplishments during the year, and those efforts have set them up as early frontrunners for 2009.

      Masanori Akiyama, president and CEO of Sky Perfect JSAT, created the largest satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific region and fifth-largest fixed satellite services (FSS) provider in the world, and his efforts could be rewarded in 2009 if the company is able to capitalize on its new position. Amiee Chan, CEO of Norsat Inc., and Andreas Georghiou, CEO of Spacenet Inc., both engineered remarkable turnarounds of their respective companies in less than two years. If the performance of Norsat and Spacenet continue on that pace through 2009, they, too, will be right back in the race.

      Eric Beranger, CEO of Astrium Services, and Peter Shaper, CEO of CapRock Communications, are poised to provide communications services to several markets that look to be growing, even in a period of economic stress. And Nick Thompson, managing director of Arqiva’s Satellite Media Solutions division, also has his organization set up to capitalize on a plan to create a global communications solutions operator that has been in the making for two years.

      But there is no guarantee that any of those six will be nominated again, because there are numerous other executives that could surpass them in 2009.

      The leaders of the four largest FSS operators — Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat — could be candidates as they work to guide their respective companies through a difficult financial time by not only focusing on their traditional businesses but also looking to expand into new markets. Robert McCollum, president of Comtech EF Data Corp., is one to watch as well as the impact of the company’s 2008 acquisition of Radyne begins to be felt throughout the ground station and amplifier markets.

      New names such as Avanti, Solaris, ProtoStar and O3b also could have an impact on the 2009 Executive of the Year race as they begin to rollout their new products and services. Another potential candidate is Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX. The upstart launch provider succeeded in performing a demonstration launch of its small Falcon 1 rocket in 2008, but meeting its ambitious goals for 2009 certainly could make the satellite industry take notice and put Musk in the running.

      Of course, it’s very difficult to predict what may happen throughout 2009. So while we give Kaul his well-deserved moment in the spotlight at SATELLITE 2009, it’s already time to pay close attention to the rest of the year.

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