President and CEO
Southern Cross Cable Network
Laurie was appointed to the position of president and chief executive officer for Southern Cross Cable Network in February 2019. Prior to his role as president and CEO of Southern Cross, Laurie held key roles as head of wholesale and interconnect in 2degrees Limited and as president and country manager in Sparks’ former U.S. operation, Telecom New Zealand USA Limited. Laurie has an extensive background in management and sales and over a 32-year career in the international telecommunications industry starting with Telecom New Zealand in 1991.
What technology breakthrough would pave the way for the ICT industry?
I know it’s the soup du jour, but in my opinion the AI technology behind ChatGPT, Bard, and other AI algorithms, as well as the large language models launched around these data sets will have a profound impact on the industry. From the demand for raw capacity, server processing power to the benefits derived from the machine learning and AI applications developed, I believe we will experience exponential change in both the end user experience and the underlying infrastructure requirements.
These developments will drive unthought of innovation and end user experiences. With the intricacy of information and communication technologies (ICT) networks these days, you can imagine how AI-enhanced network monitoring could provide insights into network management and planning, for example. While there is the usual fear around any new technology, I believe that the utilization of AI-based technologies has the capability of providing real development and benefits in the ICT sector.
How can telecommunications technologies help humanity?
Bringing the first fiber optic international cable to the island nations of Tokelau and Kiribati is a life-changing experience for developing countries and more importantly the populations living on these remote islands. ICT has enormous potential for socioeconomic development, especially in cross-sectoral development across both the private and public sectors, be it health, education, agriculture, tourism, governance, finance, disaster management, and climate change.
The ability to provide the core infrastructure on which health care, education, and communication capabilities can flourish provides benefits of enhanced health, wellness, and social connectedness. Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity and for some of the most at risk nations, the ability to share firsthand the real-world threat they face daily may start to move the world’s perception of the dire threat and influence action.
Is it important for companies to continue to innovate their organization or offerings, and why?
It is vital that companies continue to innovate and evolve to changing customer and macro-environmental needs. Societal, customer, and industry demand are not static and even if a company has “the perfect” service or product today, the world and its demand will continue to change and develop around them based on other factors. The need to support the exponentially growing demand must be done in an environmentally and energy efficient manner. This cannot be achieved without continuous innovation at the product, technology, and organizational levels. Companies that fail to innovate and adapt will eventually become irrelevant and outdated.
What value does PTC hold for you/your company?
PTC’s Annual Conference is one of the “must attend”’ industry events of the year. It’s an opportunity to connect and network with industry peers in a relaxed and engaging environment. The Annual Conference is an industry forum where you can access industry knowledge, experience, and research as well as taking time to recognize industry achievements at the annual awards ceremony.
For Southern Cross, PTC extends beyond a once-a-year conference, it is a welcoming community that enables us to remain connected to the wider ICT industry throughout the year. PTC recognizes the importance of strengthening telecommunications in the Pacific region and is dedicated to improving education, accessibility, and inclusion to young professionals, females, and underprivileged communities.
What would you share with those interested in becoming a PTC Member?
Do it! The network of industry expertise and the opportunities to rub shoulders with C-level executives is unparalleled. There are a number of other industry conferences throughout the year but only one PTC Annual Conference, and repeatedly when talking to industry representatives and customers, PTC is mentioned as a key forum for them.
The work that the PTC Community does in supporting the Pacific and the next generation of industry professionals is vital if we want to continue to see our sector develop and grow, and this investment in the future can only be sustained through its members.
What advice would you share with current and future graduates interested in this field?
It’s an exciting and ever-evolving industry. It’s also an industry that in many ways is aging out so there has never been a better opportunity for the up-and-coming cohort to focus on a career in the industry. The ICT industry has many different roles and career opportunities, you don’t need to be an engineer to thrive in this industry. Find a mentor to help challenge and assist your journey – learn from others’ experiences but also understand a fresh set of eyes is also a good skill set to bring and that this is a two-way relationship.
What is something that not that many people know about you?
I am a twin, and both my parents were also twins.
What has been a positive outcome organizationally or individually given the current state of the world?
The pandemic made the world seem both big and small at the same time. Small in the sense that we are now better connected virtually via the likes of Teams and Zoom but big in the sense that when you are locked down, the ability to travel and be physically present with friends, family, and colleagues was a big if not impossible task. Take the opportunity to explore and say yes to the opportunities that present themselves that you previously might have deferred – you never know when these will be taken away from you – act now.
About Southern Cross Cable Network
Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) owns and operates three trans-Pacific submarine cables that make up the Southern Cross cable ecosystem connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tokelau, Kiribati, and Hawaii to the West Coast of the United States providing carrier neutral services to carriers, resellers, global cloud and content providers, and customer service providers. The two original cables went into service in 2000 and the latest cable, SX NEXT, went into service on 7 July 7 2022, and is a four fiber pair 72Tbs+ open architecture system.