GTWN members, colleagues and friends celebrated their annual welcome reception in glittering style at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday 26 February 2018 with a welcome reception in the Hall of Mirrors at the world-renowned Opera Liceu. GTWN Board members were joined by more than 150 VIP guests at the spectacular event, which was generously supported by Platinum Sponsor, Ciena, and Gold Sponsors SES-imagotag and Northstar.

Despite the very cold weather outside, guests received a very warm welcome to an evening of networking, discussion and debate around the theme of “Solutions for a complex world”.  Ciena CEO Gary Smith opened the evening by welcoming everyone on behalf of Ciena, saying how pleased he was to support such a wonderful event. He noted that the GTWN and Ciena share a history of more than 25 years of technical innovation and entrepreneurship, with a track record of supporting diversity of leadership and perspective to support these goals.  He then introduced the keynote speaker for the evening, Ciena’s Vice President and General Manager, EMEA, Keri Gilder.

Keri explored the evening’s discussion theme of “Solutions for a complex world” from the point of view of the need to always remain open to different perspectives and alternative views when confronted with the challenges of a rapidly changing industry and market. Many people today, she said, are too willing to accept the first data that they see, without questioning the context or the relevance, or indeed whether taking an alternative perspective could provide much needed context. Without such diversity of perspective, if we rely too heavily on one source of information, we are in danger of taking ill-informed decisions. Indeed, in order to ensure we have true solutions for such a complex environment, we need to keep an open mind and always consult alternative sources. Ciena practises this alternative perspective and adaptive approach in its day to day operation, providing a defence against the unexpected in today’s rapidly changing digital landscape.

GSMA Director-General, Mats Granryd, then welcomed guests to Mobile World Congress on behalf of the GSMA Board. Despite many claims on his schedule on the first night of Congress, Mats said he was very pleased to attend ad be able to support the ongoing work of the GTWN. He noted the synergy between the theme of the Reception, “Solutions for a complex world” and the overall theme of the 2018 Congress, which is “Creating a better future”. Both organisations have identified the need for leaders in the industry to focus on applying digital mobile technology, not just for its own sake, but to address the many social, economic and environmental challenges facing mankind across the globe. For this reason, MWC 2018 has partnered with local Barcelona artists, Brosmind, to create new characters as a visual reminder of each of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The mobile industry is committed to achieving the SDGs, and by working together, with governments, the private sector, civil society, and leading entrepreneurial organisations such as the GTWN, mobile is Creating a Better Future today.

Thierry Gaudou, Chairman and CEO of SES-imagotag, who were one of two Gold Sponsors for the evening, then spoke about the future of the mobile industry and the many opportunities remaining for the mobile operators and solution providers in the retail sector. Traditional bricks and mortar businesses are under immense pressure from online retailers, and from the changing preferences of consumers, who enjoy both the online shopping experience, as well as the traditional retail experience.  The challenge for retailers now is to combine the best of both worlds, and to apply digital mobile technology to provide solutions for the complex issues surrounding digital transformation of this very large economic sector. The social and economic stakes are high: in the US, for example, 2/3 of GDP comes from retail consumption. Worldwide, total retail sales are more then $25 trillion annually. Therefore, anything that impacts the health of the retail sector also has a significant impact on the economy as a whole, and by extension on jobs and society.  The mobile industry has a wonderful opportunity to become more involved in the future of the retail sector, by bringing its expertise in terms of technology, including in-store wifi, connectivity, online platforms and back office, as well as social media and marketing, and combining these with the particular requirements of the retail sector for creating a richer and more vibrant retail experience. SES-imagotag, as the world’s largest digital labelling company, is ready to partner with the mobile industry to secure a bright future for retail.

We were thrilled to welcome Doreen Bogdan Martin, who is a candidate to become the ITU Director of Development.  Doreen shared with us her vision of how telecommunications can help the developing world.  We will all support her through our various organizations.

Our final speaker was Paul Douany head of TurkTelekom.  He highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurs to the future of the tech sector, and in particular the importance of diversity and inclusion and the role of female entrepreneurs in achieving sustainable investment and growth. He introduced his colleagues from Turkey, who are all leading entrepreneurs in the tech sector.  For him, the secret to finding solutions to complex challenges, is to always remain open to new ideas and perspectives, and to develop and foster a global network of colleagues with like-minded ambitions. For this reason, he supports the work of the European Business Angels Network (EBAN) as an important mechanism to foster inter-national and inter-industry cooperation and investment.