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John Celli, President & CEO, Penelope Longbottom, President, Longbottom,Counsel, Milbank,Ateme, Thomas Van Den Driessche.

Honoring individuals who have led the satellite industry in making a better world

The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) announced six new inductees for the 2016 Satellite Hall of Fame.  They will join more than 40 Hall of Fame members including Dr. Arthur C. Clarke, Dr. Harold Rosen, Olof Lundberg, Eddy Hartenstein, Frederic d’Allest, Sidney Topol, Takayushi Yoshida, Mary Ann Elliott, Mary Frost, Peter Jackson, Dick Tauber, Dirk Breynaert, Mark Dankberg, Susan Irwin and Robert Berry.

The 2016 honorees, in alphabetical order, are John Celli, President & CEO, Space Systems Loral; Richard Hadsall, Chief Innovation Officer, EMC; Penelope Longbottom, President, Longbottom Communications, a division of Sage Communications; Philip A. Rubin, President & CEO, RFK Engineering Solutions; Phillip Spector, Of Counsel, Milbank; and Andrew Sukawaty, Non-Executive Chairman, Inmarsat.

“The 2016 inductees into the Satellite Hall of Fame are more than just recognized leaders in business, technology, deal-making and communications,” said SSPI Executive Director Robert Bell. “Their careers offer lessons to our industry on how to build a challenging and rewarding career in a business that changes the world for the better every day.”

The Hall of Fame Ceremony will take place at the 2016 Hall of Fame Benefit Dinner on March 8 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, where the Hall of Fame inductees will be presented with Ariane trophies courtesy of Arianespace.  Hall of Fame members are selected by a committee of industry leaders chaired by Richard Wolf, Executive Vice President, The Switch and past Chairman of SSPI. Committee members include Dianne VanBeber of Intelsat, Tim Jackson of Ateme, Thomas Van Den Driessche of Newtec, Jean-Paul Hoffmann of Radio 100.7 Luxembourg, David Cavossa and Dr. Denis Curtin.

The SSPI Satellite Hall of Fame was introduced in 1987 to recognize the enormous contributions of the visionaries and pioneers who have made possible the age of satellite communications – individuals who have devoted their careers to the advancement of technology and to helping build the political and commercial foundations of the industry.

The 2016 Satellite Hall of Fame Inductees

John Celli
President & CEO, Space Systems Loral

John Celli has dedicated his career to creating satellites and technology that makes the world a better place.  He joined Space Systems Loral as an engineer in 1981 after six years with Alenia S.p.A in Rome. Thirty-one years later, he became President of SSL, which he had helped to become the world’s leading provider of commercial communications satellites with a 30% market share over the previous decade.

In engineering, manufacturing and test management positions, and as Chief Operating Officer beginning in 2001, John guided many technology advances to market.  They included the world’s first 20-kW satellite, the first high-throughput satellite and multiple advances in antenna technologies and data handling systems.  One of John’s proudest accomplishments was serving as executive director of SSL’s Intelsat IX program, where he oversaw the development and delivery of seven advanced multi-frequency spacecraft. When the first of those satellites launched in 2001, it was among the largest and most powerful of its time and marked an advance in satellite switched-time division, with a multiple-access subsystem within the payloads to achieve more efficient traffic loading on a number of the transponders.  Under his management, the company also built the world’s two highest-capacity satellites in orbit today and more recently opened a smallsat production facility that manufactures small earth observation spacecraft for Google’s Skybox Imaging.

Inside SSL, John is known for his integrity and commitment to the industry as well as his dedication to helping talented individuals grow and succeed. He takes a particular interest in encouraging young people to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers. He engages with engineering students at local universities with motivational speeches and ensures that SSL participates in organizations that support STEM education, such as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Change the Equation (CTEq), and Techbridge.  His enthusiastic support has driven SSL’s participation in SSPI’s Promise Awards, and no less than six SSL employees have received this prestigious honor for young employees who make extraordinary contributions to their companies.

Richard Hadsall
Chief Innovation Officer, EMC

Richard Hadsall is one of that rare breed of technologists who is also a successful company founder and leader.  Crescomm Transmission Services, launched in 1976, was his first venture, which evolved in 1981 into Maritime Telecommunications Network or MTN.  Five years later, Richard developed a technology that would forever transform communications at sea: the motion-stabilized VSAT antenna, which could maintain its lock on a spacecraft 22,000 miles away while a ship pitched and rolled underneath it.  Under his technology leadership, MTN pioneered a unique business model, in which the company became the communications partner of its government and cruise line customers, and introduced a series of passenger and crew services that generated revenue shared by the cruise line and MTN.  Success with cruise lines allowed the company to expand into other maritime markets including ferries, private yachts, oil & gas vessels and commercial ships.  This ultimately led to its acquisition, in 2015, by EMC.

Though he is known as the “grandfather of maritime VSAT,” stabilizing an antenna was only one of Richard’s many technology “firsts.”  He pioneered the use of C- and Ku-band broadband at sea for delivering voice, Internet and video.  His work enabled the first live broadcast from a nuclear submarine for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and a live uplink from a moving Amtrak train for the program’s week-long “Whistle Stop” coverage of the 2008 Presidential election.  In 2011, he became one of the few satellite engineers to receive an Emmy Award for retrofitting a Ford F350 pickup into the “Bloom-Mobile,” a satellite-based mobile communications platform that allowed the late NBC reporter David Bloom to broadcast live coverage of the War in Iraq while moving across the Iraqi desert at speeds up to 50 mph.

When asked about his long and entrepreneurial career in the industry, Richard said, “Having the opportunity to pioneer the merging of satellite and communications technology more than three decades ago has led to very a satisfying and productive career. It’s an honor to have been part of those teams and to be recognized through SSPI’s induction into the Satellite Hall of Fame.”

Penelope Longbottom
President, Longbottom Communications, a division of Sage Communications

Penelope Longbottom has devoted her career to explaining satellite to the world in support of a global industry driving for growth.  She entered the industry in 1985 as Director of Communications for Hughes Communications.  In her first year on the job, she developed and managed communications and long-lead marketing for the startup of Japan’s first commercial satellite company, JCSAT, of which Hughes was part owner, as well for as the troubled launch of Leasat 3 for the US Navy.  Carried into space aboard Shuttle flight STS 51-D, the satellite was left drifting in low Earth orbit by the failure of its booster stage.  Repeated attempts by the crew to recover it proved fruitless, but a follow-up mission, STS 51-I, recovered and repaired the spacecraft in an historic 2 days of extravehicular activity, after which Hughes boosted it successfully to GEO orbit.

Promoted to Hughes Communications vice president in 1993, Penelope handled communications for the launch of American Mobile Satellite, the first mobile satellite system in the United States, and managed the branding, communications and long-lead marketing for the new Hughes business, DirecTV, the first digital direct-to-home TV service.  While serving with Hughes, she was instrumental in the founding of the Satellite Industry Association (SIA), the industry’s lobbying association.  She guided the association’s early mission and development as its first Chair and hired its first executive director.

Leaving Hughes, Penelope went on to shape brand identity and go-to-market strategies as a senior marketing communications executive with Lockheed Martin Intersputnik, Lockheed Martin Space & Strategic Missiles and XM Satellite Radio.  She founded Longbottom Communications, a branding and marketing company serving the industry, in 2000 and merged it with Sage Communications in 2013.  In addition to her professional achievements, Penelope has served in leadership roles in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of SSPI, Women in Aerospace (WIA) and the Washington Space Business Roundtable (WSBR).

Philip A. Rubin
President & CEO, RKF Engineering Solutions LLC

Philip Rubin has been the technology innovator behind some of the most fundamental advances in the history of satellite.  He began his career in the 1950s at ITT Research Laboratories, where he designed and built C-band traveling wave tube amplifiers.  Five years later, he joined the Hughes Aircraft Company, where he contributed work to Syncom 2 and Syncom 3, which became the world’s first geostationary satellite.   He moved to Geneva in 1965 to become the International Telecommunications Union’s first satellite expert.  That job took him to India, where he developed the Centre for Research and Training in Satellite Communications, which helped the India’s satellite industry literally get off the ground.

By 1970, Philip was back in the United States as Chief Scientist and Director of the Office of Science and Technology for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Under his leadership, the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio became the first broadcasters to use satellite for program distribution across the United States. While working for the CPB, Philip also developed improved VHF and UHF receivers for PBS and installed earth stations in northern Alaska to provide telemedicine services.

In the early 1980s, Philip joined PanAmSat, the company that broke the monopoly on international satellite communications, where he was to work for the next seventeen years. His contributions to that precedent-setting company included designing the new satellite system, hiring and training the technical staff, coordinating orbital locations, and overseeing deployment of eleven satellites in orbit.  By the time he left the company, PanAmSat was the second largest satellite operator in the world.

Leaving PanAmSat, Philip founded RKF Engineering Solutions, which continues to thrive today. For his many accomplishments, he has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a Fellow of the AIAA and has received IEEE Centennial award and the AIAA’s Aerospace Communications Award.

Phillip Spector
Of Counsel, Milbank

Phillip Spector has been a leader in the industry, as a lawyer and business executive, for decades.  He began his career in government, where he served as a law clerk to a Supreme Court Justice and worked in the White House as Associate Assistant to the President.  He then entered the private practice of law, and in the 1980s helped to lay the groundwork at the FCC for, and then negotiated, the industry’s first sales of transponders.  He also was PanAmSat’s outside counsel during its years-long battle to break the Intelsat monopoly on the provision of international satellite services.

In the 1990s, he joined the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he served as Managing Partner of the Washington office and Chairman of the Communications & Technology Group.  In that role, he acted as a key advisor to SES, helping to negotiate the 2001 acquisition of GE Americom by SES – the first trans-Atlantic merger in the industry’s history.  He also was the lead attorney for the groundbreaking SkyBridge project, which successfully fought battles at the ITU and the FCC to develop global rules to allow non-geostationary satellite systems to share spectrum with geostationary satellites.

In 2005, he moved to the client side, becoming General Counsel of Intelsat, and in that position guided the historic merger of Intelsat with PanAmSat in 2006.  Antitrust experts expected that the deal would not be approved, but it went through without any divestitures of assets.  In 2007, his responsibilities at Intelsat grew with his appointment as Executive Vice President, Business Development, and he later became a member of the Intelsat Board of Directors.

In 2013, Phil left Intelsat and returned to his roots in private practice.  He joined the Washington office of the international law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, where he provides clients with representation in a wide range of corporate and regulatory matters, is looked to for strategic counsel, and negotiates transactions and alliances. As before, he maintains a strong focus on satellite and telecommunications, because, as he says, “we in the industry are privileged to explore the frontiers of outer space, while working on projects that benefit the globe’s interconnectivity, all within a business environment that is constantly changing.”

Andrew Sukawaty
Non-Executive Chairman, Inmarsat

In 2004, when Andrew Sukawaty was appointed CEO of Inmarsat after a quarter-century in the mobile and cable TV industries, the 25-year-old company generated annual revenues of less than $400 million and was valued at $1.5 billion.  It provided communication services to its customers in primarily voice and low speed data.

At the end of Andrew’s tenure as executive Chairman in 2014, the company had almost quadrupled its annual revenues to $1.4 billion, increased its valuation almost seven times to nearly $10 billion and was close to launching the world’s first, globally available mobile broadband satellite fleet able to deliver 50 megabits per second anywhere in the world.

Andrew was originally engaged by Inmarsat in 2003, when he led the private-equity buyout of the former United Nations treaty organization, followed just two years later by an initial public offering.  During this period, the company invested US$1.5 billion in building and launching the Inmarsat-4 (I-4) fleet, which introduced the world to BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network), capable of delivering services with rates of up to 1 Mbps.  In a 2012 interview with Via Satellite, Andrew called this the biggest investment risk the company took during his tenure. It launched a range of services that allowed users, from governments to aid agencies, to do things they could not have imagined just five years earlier. It also allowed the company to expand rapidly into aviation and other new markets.

The I-4 constellation was only the beginning. Under Andrew’s management, Inmarsat acquired Stratos Global and SkyWave Mobile, formerly independent Inmarsat service providers, to evolve the company’s business from a multi-tier distribution model led by its Land Earth Station partners to a consolidated distributor-led direct and indirect distribution model. This was followed by the acquisition of Segovia, a provider of managed communications services for the US Department of Defense and other government agencies, which deepened the company’s penetration of the government-military market as well as broadening its service offering.  While acquiring companies to expand the company’s horizons, Andrew also directed investment to the modernization of safety services for maritime and aviation, and increased charitable contributions to support emergency services and humanitarian aid by the UN and Télécoms Sans Frontières.

In 2010, just five years after the I-4 fleet had first entered service, Andrew announced an initial investment of $1.6 billion to construct the most powerful high-speed global mobile broadband constellation ever developed.  Inmarsat-5, now better known as Global Xpress, introduced global commercial service to aircraft in 2015 and is already delivering 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speeds to ships and land terminals.  This innovation has placed Inmarsat – once known only for its satphones and text terminals – at the forefront of delivering a new generation of mobile satellite services to government and industrial customers around the world.

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Shift to sun, ski and suburbs gives Airbnb advantage over hotels



Shift to sun, ski and suburbs gives Airbnb advantage over hotels 1

By Ankit Ajmera

(Reuters) – Airbnb’s quarterly results are likely to show the pandemic may have helped the home rental company lure leisure travelers away from big hotels during the global travel collapse of 2020.

Weary of being locked up in their homes for months, travelers hit the road and booked homes and cottages on Airbnb, while avoiding flights and downtown hotels, analysts said.

Airbnb accounted for 18% of the total U.S. lodging revenue in 2020, up from 11.5% in 2019, data from hotel analytics provider STR and vacation rental data company AirDNA showed.

It outperformed the hotel industry and online travel agents such as Expedia and thanks to its greater offer of ‘sun, ski, and suburban’ rental homes, Cowen & Co analysts said.

Shift to sun, ski and suburbs gives Airbnb advantage over hotels 2

(Graphic: Airbnb grabs bigger share of U.S. lodging market in pandemic:

For an interactive graphic, click here:


In 2019, about 90% of Airbnb’s bookings came from leisure travels compared with about 20%-30% for large hotels chains, including Marriott and Hilton, that rely on business travel to grow their profits.

“Unfortunately, the hotel operators do not have as much supply in locations where people are willing to travel,” said Jamie Lane, vice president of research at AirDNA.

Lane said with mass vaccinations later in the year, the share of alternative accommodations including Airbnb will drop before continuing to grow at 2%-3% per year once normal travel patterns return.

Shift to sun, ski and suburbs gives Airbnb advantage over hotels 3

(Graphic: Airbnb U.S. sales against top hotels:

For an interactive graphic, click here:


* The San Francisco-based company is expected to report gross bookings of $23.10 billion in 2020, down from about $38 billion a year earlier, according to the mean estimate of 12 analysts according to Refinitiv; gross bookings are seen rising by 50% in 2021.

* Analysts’ mean estimate for Airbnb’s full-year net loss is $3.52 billion, bigger than a loss of $674.3 million a year earlier. Full-year revenue is expected to drop 32% to $3.27 billion.


* Of 34 brokerages, 20 rate Airbnb’s stock “hold”, 12 “buy” or higher and two “sell” or lower

* Wall Street’s median 12-month price target for Airbnb is $156​, about 22% below its last closing price of $200.20.

* The company’s stock has nearly tripled since listing in December

Shift to sun, ski and suburbs gives Airbnb advantage over hotels 4

(Graphic: Airbnb’s stock has nearly tripled since debut:

For an interactive graphic, click here:

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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Britain to introduce greener gasoline at petrol stations by September



Britain to introduce greener gasoline at petrol stations by September 5

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is set to introduce E10 gasoline, a motor fuel blended with 10% renewable fuels, by September this year, a move that could cut annual CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes, the government announced on Thursday.

Current gasoline blends in Britain contain no more than 5% ethanol (E5), but the introduction of the E10 grade could cut transport emissions equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from the roads, the government said.

Bioethanol is made from materials including low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood.

“Using bioethanol in place of traditional petrol can reduce CO2 emissions and, therefore, increasing the ethanol content of petrol could help us meet our climate change targets,” the government said.

Farmers welcomed the move which should lead to a significant rise in demand for some crops.

“Not only will this mandate provide a boost for the UK wheat and sugar sectors, it will play an important and immediate role in delivering the government’s green agenda, especially as it may be some years before we are able to make a countrywide shift to fully electric vehicles,” the National Farmers Union said in a statement.

The government said that the E5 blend would remain available at pumps in the “Super” grade for older vehicles that may not be compatible with E10.

Britain consumed around 11.7 million tonnes of gasoline in 2019, according to the latest government data, accounting for about a third of overall road transport fuel use.

The move is a major boost to Britain’s biofuels producers with Vivergo Fuels announcing plans to reopen a bioethanol plant in Hull, north-eastern England, which has been closed since September 2018.

Vivergo Fuels, a unit of Associated British Foods PLC., said the plant would start manufacturing ethanol in early 2022.

The bioethanol plant can produce up to 420 million litres of bioethanol and use up to 1.1 million tonnes of feed wheat.

The government statement also said a bioethanol plant owned by Ensus in north-east England would increase production.

Ensus is a unit of CropEnergies.

“Ensus is even now running at a high capacity usage level. But naturally such a market expansion is very welcome in view of the plant’s future development,” said CropEnergies Chief Executive Stephan Meeder, adding he expected the British ethanol market to grow by up to 600,000 to 700,000 cubic metres per year.

(Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar and Nigel Hunt, Additinal reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by David Evans and Jonathan Oatis)


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How can finance leaders regain a long-term planning focus amidst the Covid crisis?



The coronavirus crisis is highlighting one of the most fundamental tensions that business leaders face:Do they pursue purpose or profit.

Vicky Wordsworth carved a reputation as a financial management specialist within private-equity backed businesses, before becoming CFO of the 158-year-old family-owned group of communications specialists – Bailie Group. Here, she considers the need for finance leaders to look beyond the turbulence of the pandemic and plan for the future…

The role of a finance leader is multifaceted. At the core, is a need to protect the balance sheet. However, in supporting the strategic progress of a business, there is increasingly a need for the profession to manage uncertainty to mitigate risks and leverage opportunities too.

This was true long before the onset of Covid-19. A Gartner guide from 2019 for example, highlighted that finance leaders were spending 25-50% of their time navigating unfamiliar situations, even then. And many years earlier, a Wall Street Journal article from 2014 cited advice from Deloitte which encouraged senior finance executives to drive corporate-wide, critical decision-making, that balances strategy, risk and finance in uncertain times.

So, while the health crisis has been a colossal blow to not just the world of commerce, but humanity on the whole, from a finance perspective, we do know what to do.

The onset of short-termism

Another Gartner report, issued in the earlier wave of the pandemic, warned CFOs against short-term and unsustainable cost cutting measures, and understandably so – knee-jerk financial decisions can have devastating longer-term consequences in terms of everything from supply chain security to the retention of valued talent.

However, for many organisations – particularly those without the luxury of healthy cash reserves – it very quickly became about survival. So yes, finance leaders may have been forced to take some rapid actions they would have rather not, but in most cases the decisions will not have been made recklessly. They will still have been considered, albeit at pace.

This agility is an important trait for finance professionals – crisis or no crisis. As a private equity CFO – my former role – the fluidity of decision making reflected the speed with which stakeholders wanted to drive up the value of the business and realise an ROI as quickly as possible. Here aggressive targets may have been the pressure points – not a global pandemic – but the need to act fast and think about a comparatively more short-term outlook, was key.

Moving the dial

For businesses that are a going concern, the objectives are very different to those associated with the PE model. So, the challenge for CFOs in these environments, is to regain a longer-term outlook, ASAP.

Admittedly this isn’t easy amidst so much economic turbulence, and some companies, sadly, are having to manage cash on a daily basis just to ensure staff get paid. But we know that pure short-termism can jeopardise the future financial integrity of businesses, while stifling innovation in the process.

At Bailie Group, for example, the purpose of our organisation is to invest in ideas and people which make a positive difference, and properties that inspire. We therefore have some bold ambitions – not to mention a sharp monthly reporting rigour – and we’re continually growing, both organically and via acquisition. But we naturally have a longer horizon too, which cannot – and will not – fall by the wayside because of Covid. The board needs to support the company, the people within it, and society, far into the future.

Vicky Wordsworth

Vicky Wordsworth

Looking inwardly to develop long-term plans

To do this, last March was all about looking inwardly to check that we were OK. We temporarily paused a commercial property overhaul for example, and some due diligence work on an impending acquisition also took a momentary back seat while we ensured our ‘house was in order’. Thankfully, in our case, we have a robust management structure and strong cash reserves from previous years’ reinvestment, so our position was stable. But this evaluation exercise was important nonetheless as we certainly didn’t have ‘global pandemic’ on our risk register.

We formed a Covid-19 committee who met every day to make rapid decisions, under pressure, for the benefit of the business, our people, and clients. But we were quick to look outwardly again – after only 1-2 months – to begin focusing on the medium term.

The pace with which this shift can take place will naturally vary from one organisation to the next, and it would be wrong to suggest it’s easy. But the most important point to note is that the adjustment is almost always essential, as soon as practicably possible, and it’s never too late to turn the dial.

Nurturing a vision

Personally, 2020 was less about long-term planning for Bailie Group, as we were already in the final year of a three-year plan. We’re fortunate, in that respect, to have previously had that vision, not to mention an operating model which doesn’t bog decision makers down in tactical constraints.

But even without these fortunate elements, and however prolonged this period of difficulty may feel, finance executives and their senior management teams can still be visionary.

Presuming organisations have taken advantage of all funding currently available, and undertaken sensible cost reviews to remove unnecessary spend, the next key action is to devise a plan inclusive of clear milestones, roles and responsibilities, to bring it to life. Love or loathe the term ‘pivot’, it is evidence that lateral thinking can ignite previously untapped revenue streams, and some businesses may be yet to fully realise their potential here.

We’re about to currently formalise our new three-year plan – purely because we’re at that part in our strategic cycle, not because of Covid. And while our tactical goals for the next 12 months naturally reflect the current climate, our purpose remains true, and so our strategy is largely unchanged as a result. We’re going to push boundaries and drive more positive change in our communities, because that’s why we exist. We’re still looking out for additional acquisition opportunities, having completed on one in October 2020, and we have recently announced a substantial innovation fund to ignite the fire in the bellies of our progressive Group companies.

We’ve earmarked investment for wellbeing too, as the health of our people will prove crucial to our longer-term success, and training and development is currently in sharp focus. We’re keen to ensure our colleagues feel engaged, fulfilled and supported now, in readiness for us returning to some degree of BAU, in the future. In fact, this has been an essential part of our budget setting.

We also feel prepared, which is important. Nobody can say with any real certainty what the future holds for the economy. If confidence starts to build, particularly in H2, we will see GDP rise and market opportunities open up once again. We have to maintain that optimism, but we’re continually looking outwardly for cues that influence our ongoing decision making, and advice from peers who also want British business to succeed.

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