Leadership & Governance
Group Chief Executive Officer
Richard has extensive experience in developing and financing fast growing telecommunication companies in Europe, Africa and the Americas having worked in the telecommunications, cable and media industry for over 25 years. From 1998 to 2009 he was the Chief Executive Officer and a founding director of ONO, the largest cable television and telecommunications operator in Spain. ONO was sold to Vodafone in early 2014. From 2009 to 2014 Richard was Chairman of Blue Interactive, a Brazilian telecoms operator that was sold to Claro. He was also European President of TOA Technologies, a software business sold to Oracle and Vice Chairman of Euskaltel, a Spanish telecoms operator that listed on the Spanish stock exchange. From 2013 to 2015 Richard was the Chief Executive Officer of Wananchi Group, a telecoms operator in East and South Eastern Africa.
Richard is now an active investor in disruptive technology businesses working closely with the founders and teams that he invests in. He is currently Chairman of Citibox (software) and a non-executive director of Eurona, a Spanish telecommunications business. He is also a trustee of the Kusasa Project, a school in South Africa.
He is a UK Chartered Accountant having qualified and previously worked for over ten years with Deloitte & Touche, London. He has three grown up children.
Sean joined in 2021. He is a member of Blackrock's Global Credit Platform. He is an investment professional focused on the direct lending and special situations credit strategies. He is a member of US Private Capital's Management Operating Committee and leads the Talent Management & Development vertical for the group.
Sean held a similar role at Tennenbaum Capital Partners prior to its acquisition by BlackRock in 2018. He began his career at UBS Investment Bank's Growth Capital and Restructuring Group and has experience in a variety of transactions including leveraged buyouts, private placements and debt financings across several industries.
He currently chairs the Santa Monica office Community Service Committee and is member of the Global Credit Human Capital Committee.
Sean earned a B.A. (honors) in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
He holds various Non-Executive Director roles in Telecommunications including FiberTower, Terrestar, NextWave Wireless Inc, and Panavision and Director of Research for Solus Alternative Asset Management. Prior to this Craig was the Managing Director of Stanfield Capital Partners.
Adam M. Kleinman
Adam is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Great Elm Capital Group, Inc., the Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Great Elm Capital Management, Inc. and the Chief Compliance Officer of Great Elm Capital Corp. Prior to joining Great Elm, Mr. Kleinman was a Partner and the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel at a Boston-based registered investment adviser from 2009 to 2017. From 2004 to 2009, Mr. Kleinman was an Associate in the Banking and Leveraged Finance group at Bingham McCutchen LLP where he represented leading financial institutions, hedge funds and corporate borrowers in a broad range of commercial finance transactions. Mr. Kleinman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Haverford College in 1997 with a BA in History and received his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2004.
His experience spans Telecommunications and Investment Banking.
He was Senior Vice President and Treasurer at Loral Space & Communications Inc., a multi-billion dollar US based satellite telecommunications company, prior to that Richard was a senior banker for JP Morgan Securities.
Group Chief Executive Officer
Kyle Whitehill joined Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti) in April 2018 as the Group Chief Executive Officer.
Kyle has extensive experience in the FMCG, mobile, fixed and converged products industries. Prior to joining Avanti, he served as CEO of Liquid Telecom South Africa, where he focused on operational excellence, customer experience and talent investment led to significant company growth during his tenure.
For 16 years Kyle held various senior leadership positions at Vodafone Group, including CEO of Vodafone Qatar Q.S.C. from 2013 to 2016, CEO of Vodafone Ghana from 2010 to 2013, COO of Vodafone India and Chairman of Vodafone India PTY from 2008 to 2010, Enterprise Business Unit Director and board member for Vodafone UK from 2004 to 2008 and Sales Director and Strategic Relationships Director for Vodafone UK between 2001 and 2004.
His early career was spent at fast moving consumer goods companies L'Oreal, Diagio and Guinness before he entered general management within the soft drinks division of PepsiCo.
Chief Operating Officer – Customer
Libby Barr is the Chief Operating Officer – Customer, at Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti) and is a member of the Executive Committee.
Joining Avanti in January 2019, Libby oversees the end-to-end customer relationship encompassing Sales, Wholesale, Product Management, Marketing and Commercial.
Prior to Avanti, Libby was at BT for nine years. As Managing Director of Customer Care she was a key member of the BT Consumer leadership team who grew revenues by more than £1.2bn in five years. Libby was also responsible for the strategic vision, leadership and transformation of a 10,000 strong Customer Care organisation across more than 30 worldwide sites.
Libby began her career at Vodafone. At the company for 22 years she held positions in both the global and UK organisations, leading the Enterprise Sales and Service organisations. In addition, Libby was a Trustee of the Vodafone Foundation.
Chief Technology Officer
Vikas Grover is the Chief Technology Officer at Avanti Communications plc and is a member of the Executive Team.
Vikas joined Avanti in March 2021 and leads all Operational and Network functions, which accounts for over half the business.
Vikas was recently the founding Chief Information Officer at OneWeb, where he led Global Networks, IT Platforms and Security. Before OneWeb, he was the CIO and EVP Technology Planning at Vodafone India. Vikas brings a rich cross-industry experience from his stint at KPMG (Atos).
Group HR Director
Debbie Mavis joined Avanti Communication Group plc (Avanti) in July 2018 as Group HR Director and as a member of the Executive Committee. She oversees all aspects of HR, ICT, Property, Internal Communications and CSR globally.
Debbie has over 20 years’ experience working in telecommunications and banking. Before joining Avanti she held the role of Director of Talent and Resourcing at TSB Bank for six years, where she was instrumental in the divestment of the entity from Lloyds Banking Group, the build of TSB, flotation and the subsequent acquisition by Banco de Sabadell.
At Vodafone for 12 years, Debbie held a number of senior roles, initially in Vodafone UK including Head of Business Partnering, UK Head of Resourcing and Head of Employee Engagement. In 2006, she moved to a European regional role to lead Executive Resourcing, Talent Management across fourteen countries with global accountability for Talent and Resourcing in Group Marketing and Global Technology. She built strong succession capability in all the European Markets and coached and mentored Executives across the Group.
Chief Financial Officer
Rob Plews is the Chief Financial Officer at Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti) and a member of the Executive Committee. Rob is responsible for all aspects of finance for the Group including investor relations, delivering meaningful commercial insight and day-to-day operations.
At Avanti for six years, he originally joined as Deputy CFO. During his tenure Rob has been instrumental in completing the financing of Avanti’s HYLAS 3 and HYLAS 4 satellites and is focussed on supporting the organisation to deliver its strategic goals.
Rob is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and was a Director in the Technology, Telecommunications & Media team at BDO LLP for 14 years. Prior to joining Avanti, Rob was Group Financial Controller at Harkand Group, a private equity owned international subsea services group.
Chief of Strategy and Business Development
Toby Robinson is the Chief of Strategy and Business Development at Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti) and a member of the Executive Committee. He joined the company in October 2017 with thirty years’ experience in international Telecoms Media and Technology.
At Avanti, Toby is responsible for the development of the company strategy and driving large wholesale bandwidth deals with other major players in the satellite industry. He led the business development process resulting in the signing of Avanti’s largest commercial contract to date.
Prior to joining Avanti, Toby was group Chief Commercial Officer at Eaton Towers from 2008 to 2017. As a member of the start-up management team, who grew the business to 5,000 towers across Africa, he was responsible for the acquisition of all the towers in the network. He oversaw all negotiations with Bharti Airtel and Orange in the acquisitions programme and dealt with key customers in the region, including Vodafone, MTN, Etisalat, Google and Africell.
Toby began his career as a strategy consultant working at Bain & Co, before moving on to Arthur Andersen as a Partner. In 2003, he took the role of Managing Director Europe at Mercator Partners and in 2004 joined OC&C Strategy Consultants as a Partner in their Telecoms, Media & Technology practice.
General Counsel and Group Company Secretary
Bridget Sheldon-Hill is the General Counsel and Group Company Secretary at Avanti Communications Group plc (Avanti). Joining the company in January 2020, Bridget oversees the Legal Department, sits on the Executive Committee and is Secretary to the Board.
In her role, Bridget is responsible for supporting all areas of the business across EMEA and the U.S.A. to structure legal and commercial frameworks and support global network initiatives.
Prior to joining Avanti, Bridget held numerous senior leadership roles. After spending 7 years as a senior associate at Allen & Overy LLP, where she was co-head of the Africa Desk and a member of the Mergers and Acquisitions practice, she took up the position of Group General Counsel for Eaton Towers, a passive infrastructure company supporting mobile network operators through investment in and construction of mobile phone towers. Bridget was appointed to establish a legal function and drive growth within Africa. In the role for five years, she was responsible for litigation and compliance management, M&A negotiations and implementation, in addition to serving on the executive management team.
Bridget also spent two and a half years at the Pinewood Studio Group as a member of the management committee, Group General Counsel and Secretary to the Board. During her time at Pinewood she was involved in the successful refinancing of the business as well as the negotiation and implementation of long-term contracts with Netflix and Disney.
Chief Regulatory Officer
Ann Vandenbroucke is Chief Regulatory Officer at Avanti Communications. Ann joined the company in 2018 and together with her team deals with all regulatory matters related to safeguarding Avanti’s spectrum, orbital positions, and market access. In 2019 she joined the Executive Committee.
Prior to joining Avanti, Ann spent 10 years as a regulator, including a spell at the European Communications Office. She was a Director at Inmarsat for 18 years. In the role, Ann set up the Regulatory department, leading and enabling Inmarsat’s ventures into new markets (voice, aero) and new frequency bands (Ka-band, S band) worldwide. In 2014, she was appointed Head of Regulatory for the European Aviation Network, the first hybrid terrestrial/satellite network, set up by Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat to bring internet to aircraft.
Ann thrives in an international environment and is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of policies and regulations to facilitate services that make a difference. She holds a Masters in Administrative Law and a Postgraduate in European Law.
The Board has established an audit committee and a nomination & remuneration committee with formally delegated responsibilities.
Nomination and Remuneration Committee
The members of the nomination & remuneration committee are Alan Harper, Craig Chobor, Michael Leitner and Adam Kleinman. The role of the Committee is to assist the board to fulfil its responsibility to shareholders to ensure that:
- the composition of the board complies with the Board Charter and appointments are made taking account of the level of support required to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the Company;
- remuneration policy and practices of the Company are designed to support strategy and promote long-term sustainable success, reward fairly and responsibly, with a clear link to corporate and individual performance, having regard to statutory and regulatory requirements;
- executive remuneration is aligned to company purpose and values and linked to delivery of the company’s long-term strategy.
Audit and Risk Committee
The audit committee is chaired by Richard Alden. Its other members are Craig Chobor and Richard Mastoloni. The audit committee has primary responsibility for monitoring the quality of internal controls and ensuring that the financial performance of the Company is properly measured and reported on. It receives and reviews reports from the Company’s management and auditors relating to the interim and annual accounts and the accounting and internal control systems in use throughout the Avanti Communications Group. The audit committee meets at least three times a year and has unrestricted access to the Company’s auditors.
During the course of the year the Avanti Board has codified and enhanced its practices through a new Board Charter in keeping with the UK Corporate Governance Code. The Board has reinvigorated and refined its Committees to focus on key areas of governance best practice with the Audit and Risk Committee, and the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. At the same time elements of Avanti’s executive governance have also been enhanced. The workings of the Executive Committee have been reviewed, enriched and codified. In addition, we have created two new Committees to shine a spot-light on Avanti’s strategic and commercial activities. The Company now runs a professional and fitting governance schedule that ensures effective decision-taking and the careful management of both opportunities and risks to the success of our Company.
Representing a 100% change to the leadership of the business in the past 2 years, the Executive Committee is now a strong team of internationally experienced professionals. The Committee has both robust sector-specific capabilities, and a much broader business experience. As a team, the Executive Committee has led a significant turnaround in the performance and prospects of the business and are well equipped to continue Avanti’s profitability and success in the future.
Enhancing the leadership of our business is our fantastic team of dedicated professionals responsible for providing services to our customers. They have handled the significant shift in the Company’s strategy and priorities with energy and passion and together are very proud of what we have achieved. During the past year all individuals across the business have been actively engaged in formulating and monitoring our plans at corporate, functional, team and individual level to continue our great journey of turnaround and success.
Whilst ensuring our internal leadership and operation of the Company is excelling, we have also spent the year focusing on engagement with all of our external stakeholders. Just as effective governance is an important principle for us, the transparency of our actions and activities is critical to gain the confidence of others and to fulfil our economic and social responsibility. We seek intentionally to share high-quality and extensive information about our Company and ensure a dialogue with stakeholders concerning our contribution to their needs and wishes. This engagement is led by a cross-Company Engagement Steerco who ensure that our business activities are transparent to all of our varied stakeholders.