2020 FierceWireless Rising Star – Nokia's Sandro Tavares

Nokia's Sandro Tavares (Nokia)

For 2020 the FierceWireless editorial team has selected a diverse slate of wireless executives who are on the rise in their careers. We’re doling out the names of our winners, two per day, so that our readers have the time to enjoy reading their profiles. Next week, we’ll post our popular Rising Stars poll, giving everyone the opportunity to vote for their favorite top executive to watch in wireless.

The open RAN concept has the potential to allow network operators much greater flexibility in how they build out their networks. That’s a good thing, but the push in many countries to mandate use of open RAN technologies also puts pressure on key vendors to make sure their carrier partners understand what they are getting into.

Sandro Tavares leads the mobile networks marketing team for Nokia, where the job of promoting 5G alone gives him and his cohorts plenty to do. However, he said that in the last few months his group has been increasingly busy clarifying and expanding the profile of the concept of open RAN.

“We’re looking to explain to the world what open RAN entails, what it is and what it is not, and how it could mean a potential shift to how our industry is structured,” Tavares said. “It’s not only adding a couple of radio access vendors to your network, but when it comes to the intelligent controller you are exposing APIs to allow for any innovator to start writing code for the radio access network. We believe that is going to speed the pace of innovation in the mobile access domain.”

RELATED: Nokia commits to commercial products with open RAN interfaces

The job of explaining open RAN presents an apt challenge to Tavares, someone who prides himself on his ability “to translate highly technical concepts into stories people can relate to.”

Tavares was greatly influenced by his father, a civil engineer in Brazil who has committed himself to the goal of delivering clean water to 100% of Brazilian households. The turning point in Tavares’ career, however, came in his decision to leave Brazil and start accepting international assignments that broadened his experience and got him to where he is today.

While the last year or so has seen many new 5G network launches, giving Tavares’ team lots to talk about, the bigger story may be the broader digital transformation that is happening at the same time. Though companies in many industries have talked up digital transformation for years, 2020 has witnessed the emergence of one major volatile change agent forcing the issue.

“With Covid-19 happening, at the end of the day the biggest catalyst for digital transformation in the world was a virus, and not a new technology solution,” he said.