Connectivity Everywhere - An interview with Igor Leprince, Group CEO at BAI Communications

22 Nov 2022

Connectivity Everywhere - An interview with Igor Leprince, Group CEO at BAI Communications

Michael Drew, Partner and Global Head of Odgers Berndtson’s Technology Practice recently caught up with Igor Leprince, Group Chief Executive Officer at BAI Communications to discuss all things connectivity.

Igor Leprince is fast approaching his 3rd year as CEO and has successfully led BAI Communications to its current leadership position as a neutral host designing, building, operating, financing and funding connectivity across wireless and fibre networks for customers all over the world.

Discussing the importance of connectivity as an enabler of widespread digital adoption, Igor commented on BAI’s vision and what trends he expects to see over the next 12 to 24 months.

“At a high level, our business is really to build the next generation of networks that connect where people work, where people live, where people spend their free time, and the way they travel."

“We're doing this for our customers, which are, first and foremost, the mobile network operators but also cities, transport agencies, venues of all types, enterprises and communities… we like to think that we are the glue between these different parties and different customers.”

Igor also mentioned the need for connectivity that’s fast and reliable and how improving coverage and capacity is essential for technology. Using 5G as an example, he stated that when combined with other technologies like AI, analytics and IoT, 5G can be a great enabler for public and private enterprises to drive efficiency, experience, and safety. Michael asked Igor to reflect on BAI’s growth and how an organisation stays aligned to its long-term vision during a scale up journey.

Igor explained that this is one of his key priorities and is the first thing he thinks about upon waking. Reflecting on the fact that BAI has made 4 acquisitions in the past year with over 400 people joining the company in the last 24 months, he commented that it takes a lot of time and investment in leadership and engagement and a particular focus on unifying topics that people are passionate about such as diversity and inclusion to keep everyone aligned whilst also maintaining the core DNA and the cultural strengths and visions that have emanated from BAI’s long history in Australia.

Igor said:

“We are known as a company that has a lot of trust, openness, very non-hierarchical, no politics, and when you acquire and grow, you want to keep that, and that's absolutely key.”

“I'm absolutely a firm believer that people want challenge, success, achievement, development. With all our growth, we bring plenty of these elements to our people, but they also want to enjoy the journey in the environment they work. That's clearly one of the key focuses to make sure that everyone is aligned to our long-term vision.”

Michael also explored the importance of purpose in organisations with Igor and how BAI has a genuine human impact by providing connectivity. Igor explained how important their solutions are, making employees feel extremely proud of what they do. He provided a couple of recent examples including Sunderland’s smart city where BAI IoT sensors will be deployed indoors to help enhance people’s quality of life; meaning that those living independently can stay independent in their own homes. Igor provided other examples including advances in connectivity, whether that’s on the Tube enabling people to feel safer and connected as they travel or providing rural areas with greater connectivity, allowing isolated communities to be connected to the wider world.

Michael and Igor turned their focus to the UK, exploring the fact that fibre to premise and connectivity more generally are critical to the UK’s standing as a global digital leader. With increased investment in infrastructure required to reach the end goal of creating connectivity everywhere, Michael asked Igor where the UK stands against other nations. Igor said,

“The UK government has made a lot of great progress in delivering improved digital infrastructure with super-fast broadband coverage. It was around 50% 10 years ago, and now we're more than 97%- 98%, so it's a huge improvement”.

The UK has been in a leadership position in Europe, recognising how important connectivity is for the broader adoption of cutting-edge technology and how it enables the modern evolution of smart cities and connected communities. BAI have become a neutral host champion in this regard, working with governments around the world to invest in shared infrastructure, providing investment and operation expenditure to really push the digital agenda.

In the UK this has been most evident in the government’s drive to help level up the British economy by improving connectivity across the nation. Igor explained how critical improving connectivity is in both rural and urban areas, enabling businesses, manufacturing and society as a whole to enjoy the benefits that greater connectivity brings.

Using a football analogy, Michael and Igor discussed where the UK sits both within Europe but also on the global stage.

The UK would easily make the semi-finals of the ‘connectivity World Cup’ but there are far stronger competitors out there including the US, Korea, China, and Japan who are more advanced in widespread adoption and connectivity. But the UK is still very much in a leadership position in Europe. This was highlighted when Igor discussed one of the largest and most advanced infrastructure projects in the world that BAI is currently working on – winning a 20-year concession for TfL to deliver high speed connectivity on the Tube in London.

Igor proudly explained the complexity and the vision of the project to bring connectivity to over 130 stations and platforms and over 400 miles of tunnels across London and that by doing so, by 2024, all Londoners will be vastly more connected whilst travelling underground. Many stations are already up and running, benefiting from the vast network upgrading that’s happening every night in the tunnels under London. Between 10 to 20 new stations are coming online every quarter and being connected into network.

“It's a very exciting project…it's about a £1 billion investment in London and a huge impact on people's life experience, whether it's an experience as a person traveling to London or tourist safety and I want to believe in the competitiveness of London in the world.”

Igor finished by reiterating the importance of investing in public connectivity as BAI research shows that improved wireless coverage will have a huge impact on Londoners in regard to productivity, safety and daily life both now and in the future.

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To discuss your needs within the Technology landscape please contact Michael Drew, get in touch with us, or your local find your Odgers Berndtson contact here.

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