The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced March 17, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person May 10.
Next is CEO finalist in the Private Company: Annual Revenue >$1B category Dave Wajsgras, CEO of Intelsat. Here, he talks about the company’s history of innovation, recent achievements, ways Intelsat is making an impact and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2022 / 2023?
As the foundational architect of satellite communications technology, Intelsat literally is the cornerstone of this groundbreaking industry that has changed the paradigm for a connected world. I was excited to join Intelsat as CEO in April of 2022.
Soon after joining the company, my team and I implemented a new strategy to move Intelsat up the value chain across multiple verticals including global governments. As the largest supplier of satellite capacity to the USG, we are advancing capabilities to provide fully managed services for our customers that require these essential solutions. This increases our addressable market in the U.S. government sector by a factor of two to three times. Intelsat is now beginning to advance to a full-fledged Tier 2 communications solutions provider.
We implemented several new initiatives to improve Intelsat’s financial strength and spur growth after the company emerged from a financial restructuring in early 2022. For example, this past year we successfully launched six new geostationary satellites and landed multiple new services contracts, including one with the FBI to deliver communication capabilities anywhere in the world.
In addition, our partnership strategy resulted in the formation of a critical alliance with low-earth orbit satellite operator OneWeb, providing Intelsat customers with ubiquitous coverage by accessing satellites in multiple orbits.
As a result of these and other initiatives, last year the company grew revenue for the first time in over 10 years. Intelsat is now in the best financial condition it has been in for decades.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I’m proud of our commitment to connecting the unconnected in underserved regions of the world, providing critical connectivity in the aftermath of natural disasters, driving diversity and inclusion in our company, and supporting sustainability on the planet and in space.
For example, last year we expanded connectivity across Africa through partnerships with Africa Mobile Networks, humanitarian Dikembe Mutombo, and the government of the DRC. We were able to establish connectivity for millions of people who were previously unconnected. We also joined the ITU’s Partner2Connect program to help bridge the digital divide.
Our company stepped up our disaster relief activity last year, deploying emergency communications support in Ukraine and in Florida following Hurricane Ian.
We reinvigorated our commitment to D&I by establishing important ERGs. On the sustainability front, we are collaborating with partners on robotic in-space servicing and repair to extend the life of satellites and avoid contributing to the growing space debris challenge.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
Intelsat has a long history of innovation “firsts,” from broadcasting the first moon landing to being the company behind the coined phrase, “Live via Satellite.” We’re continuing to bring the next firsts to support the mission critical technologies that save and improve lives around the world.
For example, we’re investing in efforts to virtualize the hardware-centric space environment and build out a 5G unified network. Combining our terrestrial infrastructure with the power of our multi-orbit, software-defined space-based network will provide flexibility in service models, improve economics, lower latency, and expand coverage for our customers.