AppointmentsNews

MEF announces its new Board, a new Chair and diversity at its heart

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MEF board

The Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) today announces its new Board positions. This includes a new Chair (for the first time in 16 years) and Vice Chairs, a brand-new Emeritus position and an increase in the number of women on the Board. A wide range of countries and expertise are also represented.

The new MEF Board has voted Robert Gerstmann, Chief Evangelist & Co-Founder at Sinch, as the new Chair. He takes over from long standing Chair, and original founder, Andrew Bud who has stepped aside and been honoured for his work with a position as ‘Founder and Emeritus Chair’ acting as a special advisor to the new Chair.

Andrew Bud_Founder and Chairman Emeritus

“I am very honoured and thankful to have been elected Chairman of the Mobile Ecosystem Forum. This is an exciting time with rapid changes across all our six focus sectors: Enterprise Communications, IoT, Connectivity, Payments, Personal Data & Identity and Content & Advertising. The rise of generative AI, growing 5G adoption, impending RCS support on iOS, and WhatsApp’s expanding business messaging market share will revolutionize mobile communications. At the same time, enterprises, service providers, networks, and regulators must collaborate to ensure digitization delivers consumer value without neglecting security and privacy. Excited to team up with fellow Board Members, the MEF team, and all ecosystem players to navigate the mobile industry’s growth potential and overcome the pitfalls together!” said Robert Gerstmann, Chair of the MEF Board.

“The entire Board, past and present, would like to thank Andrew for his stewardship, his guidance and unfailing dedication to MEF. He has taken the organisation from an initial idea to the global body it is today. We are thrilled he has agreed to stay on as Emeritus Chair and special advisor – his expertise will continue to be invaluable.” said Dario Betti, CEO of MEF.

The Board also has two new Vice Chairs: Waheed Adam, Executive Chairman of iTouch Messaging Services in South Africa, and Tim Ward, VP Number Information Services at Xconnect in the UK.

In addition, MEF has increased the number of women on its Board to 30%. Better gender diversity and representation is something MEF is committed to, not just on the Board but across the industry in general.

The new women on the Board are Divya Wakankar and Amira Akra, who join existing Board member Valeria Magoni from Kaleyra. All three have impressive telco experience.

Divya Wakankar is the EVP of Strategy, Corporate Development & Chief Marketing Officer at BICS. Previously, Divya led BICS’ Enterprise business and Digital Product Management, creating innovative solutions and guiding enterprises through their digital transformation journey. Her passion lies in the global impact of digitalization and emerging technologies.

Amira Akra, Product Manager, Messaging, at Vodafone has been in the telecoms industry for many years from Research to Business Development to Project and Product management.

Valeria Magoni is Senior Director of Product & Corporate Marketing at Kaleyra. She has over 15 years of experience in international marketing roles across Digital, IT services, and technology organizations. Valeria is a Durham University MBA graduate and further completed her education at MIT and SFU Business School; she was a “Women in Tech” mentor at Web Summit and a SaaStr speaker. Valeria has been confirmed as the Chair of the Growth and Marketing Committee within the MEF Board.

“Women are still underrepresented in the telecoms sector. Things are much, much better than they used to be, but the industry still has a long way to go. Over 50% of the staff employed at MEF identify as women, but once you get to Board level that number is much lower. This is something we are all committed to changing and are actively working on ways to encourage the talented women already working in the industry to step forward and apply to join the MEF Board.” said Valeria Magoni, Board Member and Chair of the Marketing and Growth Committee at MEF.

The Board is diverse in other ways too. Its members come from four continents, eight countries, including South Africa, India, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Belgium, Sweden and the UK, and represent four of the value chains within the mobile ecosystem; MNO, Wholesale Carrier, Customer Engagement Services, and Telco Vendors.

Elections are held every year with MEF members voting for their preferred candidates, and each Board position is held for two years.

Read next: Mobile Ecosystem Forum Report reveals the impact of AI in telecommunications sector

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