I’m Robin Russell. As the new CEO of BSCC, I arrived in Palau for the first time in late February this year. After some skype interviews and calls it was great to meet the Board in person.
While it is not all that obvious, submarine cables are like icebergs. Not that we are likely to encounter all that many icebergs here in Palau. But, of course, the point is that there is a lot more going on with a submarine cable project than meets the eye, especially when we are talking about long haul, repeatered systems (repeaters are optical amplifiers that are positioned about every 100 km or so along the cable on the sea floor, but perhaps more about them later). Anyway, the point is that there are lots of small but expert teams putting the network together. Lots of them will never set foot in Palau. Unless we invite them to the launch party!
The BSCC Board has been at the centre of all of this, no doubt struggling to understand the context of a highly-specialised submarine cable network subset of the already somewhat complex telecommunications business, while the milestones, decisions, deadlines, targets and problems come at a high rate of knots. Now, I am here to stand in that centre, absorb the information, try to manage the process and the outcomes, and distil the key issues and decisions, to help the Board achieve BSCC’s goals.
It was great to be made feel so welcome. It was great to meet some of the likely BSCC customers. It was great to meet Palauan people and to see Palau. But, most reassuringly, it was great to see a committed government, highly capable Board, top notch expert teams, including regional specialists McCann Consulting International, a sound, experienced financier in Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a renowned turnkey network supplier, NEC, working together to make this project succeed.
So, I was happy to sign a contract, skipped out to my home in Melbourne, Australia to get some kayaking gear, wet weather gear and books, and headed back (to find that Homenet was up and running in my conapt). All set.
I have been back in Palau since mid-March, and after nearly a month I can say that this is an impressive project that has enormous potential for social networking, health, education, government services, business in general, tourism in particular, overall economic growth and will close off any potential digital divide. Right up to today, we remain on track for an RFS (Ready for Service) date in December 2017.
That is soon, huh?
Me (my favourite topic)
My wife, Kate, and my youngest daughter, Lydia, live in Melbourne. My oldest daughter, Hannah, is expecting her first child later this year. Hannah lives in Ballarat with Jarrod.
I am a forty-year veteran in the telecommunications industry. I made my way from a base grade clerk in the Staff Pay section in Brisbane to Telstra’s Corporate Finance over twenty years, and decided to take a new tack. I went to Jakarta in Indonesia for five years, the second half as GM of Telstra’s Indonesian and Malaysian international business group, including MGTI, a half billion USD fixed line joint venture with NTT of Japan and Indosat.
Then I went to Bermuda, as the inaugural CEO of Australia Japan Cable, responsible for the construction, marketing, operations and financing for eleven years until we shifted the network into operations mode, having sold all the capacity.
Next up was CEO of the long-running, and morphing, Solomon Islands submarine cable project for five years.
Now I am in beautiful Palau! I am very happy to say there is no sign of BSCC getting side-tracked, the project is looking good.
I will blog when things happen, but I will make sure it is at least monthly, so everyone interested can have a fair idea of where we are. We have an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can get in touch. If good questions come up, I will answer them here, without any identification of the questioner or questioners.