A Stranger in a Strange Land


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In connection with the EU Water Project awarded to CNR Catania, I gave this inspirational talk to Physics Students at Catania University and old research colleagues on how to transition from Academia to the often very non-scientific world of Corporation. How to keep your sanity, curiosity (i.e., “But Why?”) and continue to have fun throughout your career.

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A Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. 1. {A Stranger in aStrange land.Dr. Kim Kyllesbech Larsen, Group Technology,Ooredoo Group, Doha, Qatar.Catania University, Catania, Italy, June 2013.In connection with the EU Water Project awarded to CNR Catania, I gave thisinspirational talk to Physics Students at Catania University, and old research colleagues, onhow to transition from Academia to the often very non-scientific world of Corporation. Howto keep your sanity, curiosity (i.e., “But Why?”) and continue to have fun throughout yourcareer.
  2. 2. The cross-road!A bit scary and not very clear decision point in the early life where you need to makeup your mind what to do next, whats the right choice, what do you really want todo with the rest of your life: goals, dreams & ambitions all comes down to this point.Frequently reality don’t really match most of our dreams & ambitions ;-)Ph.D. Ph.D.TeacherTeacherRelated IndustryRelated IndustryUnrelated Industry Unrelated IndustryConsultingConsultingMoneyTime for FamilyFameOwn BossEasy lifeSee the WorldStabilityManagerAcademic CareerCorporate Career
  3. 3. Designing your future right?DecisionUncertaintyStudies Ph.DIllustration of 1 move decision process (the normal process).Ph.DIndustry?‚End‛Goal+X yrsWorkGoalPhDM.Sc.Illustration end-game driven decision process (rarely considered).StartRarely included indecision processStarting pointWhat is required to reach ‚End‛ Goal
  4. 4. The Uniqueness1 in 1000 has a physics degree.of which 1 in 10 will have a PhD.5% earns in top 1%.
  5. 5. Are we normal?What is normal?Amy MeinzerLisa Randall Brian GreeneAlbert EinsteinDr. SheldonHawkings
  6. 6. What do you think about you?The study by Wilson et al compares a normal population (i.e., non-physicist) with aphysicist sample and test for various key human characteristic.PPPP PPPPPPSource: http://www.ywedo.com/publications/PAID_1993_187-189.pdf by Wilson & Jackson.P Blissful normality
  7. 7. At least approximately … yes!Actually a bit surprised about this result but I guess it doesn’t really measure ouranalytical abilities. Well well I am almost normal (know some that might disagree;-).Source: http://www.ywedo.com/publications/PAID_1993_187-189.pdf by Wilson & Jackson.
  8. 8. & UnsociableHow we are viewed by others:But not a lot more than normal ;-)Introverted, Careful, Controlled,Inhibited, Obsessive
  9. 9. Curiosity may have killed the cat*but the physicist lives on it!(*) or at least Schrodinger’s and then maybe not.
  10. 10. I have no special talents,I am only passionately curious.(Albert Einstein)
  11. 11. Innumeracyis more widespread& a lot moresocially accepted than illiteracy.Some people are even proud to bemathematically incompetent!(J.A.Paulos, ‚Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences”)Something we dont suffer from!
  12. 12. The transitionCongratulation on what could be the greatest journey.Certainly the longest! ;-)Making the decision to a radical change will without doubt feel like passing anenergy (or decision) barrier. Few of us realizes that the decision we make at thispoint will be for a very long time (e.g., rest of our lives).3 – 5 yearsThe Next 40+ years!CultureShockFrustrationAcademia‚Normality‛
  13. 13. Culture shock … it will pass!I was the only physicist (& only PhD in the beginning) among my peers in Ben NL.My need to understand my surroundings & curiosity was not shared by many ofmy peers. This was shocking and in the beginning (actually still is;-) frustrating.
  14. 14. Frustration …you will get over it! (almost)I experienced that it took much (much) longer to explain things than what I was usedtoo, I could see (true) trends that nobody else saw, people stop listening when I get toofactual and too numerical. I realized I needed to change strategy & keep my sanity.
  15. 15. Fun … Enjoyment … DelightWhat makes me wake up at 5 AM …. Almost everyday of my working life I havelooked forward to get into work and have meaningful fun with my colleagues,asking new questions, getting answers and thinking of new ones.BUT
  16. 16. The world is complex …more so than ever before
  17. 17. and…The Future might not beas bright as it once looked!
  18. 18. Embracing Uncertainty & RiskUncertainty & risks are very fundamental properties of modern telecommunications.One of my first presentations to one of my firsts CEOs failed as he really did notwant to hear about value at risk or uncertainty but “just” have the best business case(which was just a fairy tail were the good fairy granted all the wishes to come true).A State of UncertaintyUncertainty
  19. 19. Physicists are conditioned tomake sense of complexityHowever, some of us needs to learn that dealing with complexity does not meanthat we also need complex presentations, also what might appear simple to some isnot per se simple & clear to others … Simple & succinct is more powerful.
  20. 20. Simplify complexityAfter having failed (or succeeded pending the view) in impressing people on mycapabilities handling complexity, I started simplifying complexity and “hiding” thetrue complexity behind my analysis and decision making (making the ugly worldsomewhat prettier) … btw. most people hate smart a….. so try not to be one :-P
  21. 21. We live on data …I just love data, any kind of data, structured, unstructured, … I love cracking thebasic message in complex data and increase the understanding of the underlyingtrends and behaviours that the data represents … Cool.
  22. 22. To cut it short …Modellingwhat we are insanely good at!Since my early University days I have created models; simple, advanced & sometimesjust too complex (right Maurice?;-)…It has helped me (& the companies that I workedfor) tremendously to understand the world & formulate new strategies & insights.PROFESSIONAL MODELLING
  23. 23. The hottest job at the momentapart from taking your Master or Ph.D in Physics! ;-)Had I been 20-30 years old today (almost but then not really) I think I would havegone down this path. Now it’s just a serious cool hobby.
  24. 24. Electronic transport in metallic irondi-silicide (3D Quantum effects).DK1965M.Sc.1990Ph.D.1993Post Doc.IMEC, BEPost Doc. (‘94-’95)CNR IMETEM, ITResearch ScientistPhilips Research (NL)Semiconductor ProcessesResearch ScientistPhilips Research (NL)Integrated IC designManagerHandset & SIMBen NL, Mobile Operator StartupSenior ManagerNetwork Engineering & PlanningBen NL, Mobile Operator StartupVice PresidentNetwork EconomicsT-Mobile InternationalSenior Vice PresidentTechnology EconomicsDeutsche TelekomHead of Technology Office (2013)Group TechnologyOoredoo Group, Qatar.(3 Month, 1999)(3+Y)(1Y3M)(1Y8M)(1Y2M)(2Y)(3+Y)(5+Y)(10M)Maroc Telecom acquisition bid (withdrawn)Myanmar Telecom license bid: substantialinvestment over next 5 years.$39Bn (failed) spin-off of T-Mobile US , TMUS got $4Bn in breakupfee value (world record), All DT M&A activities since 2003.Founded Data Mining Analytics Team (4 publications).Founded Network Economics.Tele.ring AT Acquisition.Orange NL Acquisition & Integration.Mobile Network design, plan & build from 0to 1.5M customers. UMTS License 2000GSM & UMTS Device RequirementAnalysis. MMICs Mixer design, etc..Silicon on Anything process R&D.RT Migrationof Si-self-interstitials inSilicon.Anomalousdiffusion inSilicon.Metastablematerials.
  25. 25. The future of the telecom businessmodel… if there is a one?The last 5 – 6 years it has become increasingly clear that the existing telecombusiness model might not be sustainable. I have spend much time on this problem.
  26. 26. Techno-Economicalmodelling.The Bestpractice techno-financialdemand model.SymbianAndroidBlackBerry OSAppleiOSWindowsPhoneOthers6% 10% 15% 21% 30% 39% 49% 60% 70% 80% 84% 86% 88% 88% 89% 89% 89%0%20%40%60%80%100%“Many telco operators remain locked into amanual budget planning process thatresults in 100s of man-hours spend(disrupting major parts of theorganization) in budgeting rather thanfocusing on more important valuegenerating tasks. Most of this work can bereplaced by self-consistent highly efficient& almost mathematical models”“Since 1999 I have been developing self-consistent capital demand models thatlater was turned into Deutsche Telekombest practice capital modelling for theirstrategic planning & budgeting cycle.”
  27. 27. Technologydiffusion &implications onMobileOperatoroperationalperformance.Technology Adaptationof Mobile Subscribers“It is amazing how much of my olddiffusion research work can be used in myeveryday work. Early on I designed atechnology diffusion model to study theevolution of the various mobiletechnologies we support applying it tofinance, spectrum strategy & networkplanning, etc...”
  28. 28. Experiencepropagation in asocial networks... Device, ChurnCustomerexperience &other diffusionproblems.Illustration of Customer (Social) Network –customer experience diffusion problems insocial networks:Very unhappyVery unhappy“Again diffusion and this time even in astructured lattice (or network). I have beenvery interested in how customer opinionsand experiences propagate through thecustomers social network and beyond. Stilllargely un-explored territory.”
  29. 29. Village growthdynamics …relationshipbetween areaand population.Myanmar – a new mobile licenseHow many sites & how much money is required?Question:“How much area doyou need to cover tocover 75% ofpopulation inMyanmar?”NOTE: Myanmar ca. same amount of population as Italy and more thandouble the area. >80% lives in rural areas , Italy ca. 30%.Answer:“More than 30% andless than 40%.”“It really annoys me that so little is knownon area versus population distribution and inparticular village distribution and growthdynamics. Particular in emerging marketssuch as Myanmar (Burma). I got somesatellite imagery data & processed theinformation with an image analyser I hadused previously in my Ph.D. and Post.Doc.Days for area and inter-distancedistributions of particles on SEM and TEMpictures. Found this wonderful bookdescribing village structure & statistics byDr.SC Aggarwal and Dr. RK Rana.”Fractal Villages!
  30. 30. Big Dataapproach tomobilenetworkoptimizationperforms a lotbetter thanhumanequivalents.Ca. 6.500Carriersin the mobilenetwork.* Note: a mobile 3G carrier is 1 time 2×5Mhz bandwidthallocation (2× as in FDD UL & DL each has 5MHz).*
  31. 31. Pointing outfaulty‚wisdom‛Many consulting companies (some years ago) were “selling” acquisitions as a wayto proportionally boost Ebitda using linear extrapolations of “apple & oranges”data. A simple analysis showed “conventional consulting wisdom” to be faulty.Plain WrongNo Straight Line
  32. 32. Optimumoperatingconditions fora telecombusiness frombirth to thecoming ofage?The holistic business model“Something I have been obsessed about for manyyears! How does the optimal business model(through all life-cycles) look like and is itachievable through target operational measures.Obviously all business aspects needs to beconsidered.”
  33. 33. A typical day in EuropeMost of your mobile data & voice consumptions are far from being mobile but istypically consumed at 2-3 locations. You mobile behaviour also uniquely identifiesyou with less data points than is needed for a fingerprint identification (i.e.,12).
  34. 34. My Social Networks…It is ‚hard work‛ to maintain & grow your social networks.T-MobileNLDeutscheTelekomWEU+ USTelcoMEA&APACTelcoUniversity, Post-docPhilips ResearchAfter 6 years1,100 Professional connectionsTotal Network Size 12+ M- The Visible Network- Not shown:- Facebook (too many)- Twitter (374 followers)- Slideshare (80k+ views)- TechNEconomyBlog- Friends (never enough)- Colleagues not onLinkedIn (shrinking).Twitter: @KimKLarsen, Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/KimKyllesbechLarsen, Blog: http://techneconomyblog.com/LinkedIn: http://qa.linkedin.com/in/kimklarsen
  35. 35. Are social networks valuable?Having spend a lot of time building up & maintaining my social networks, I amfrequently reflecting whether it has been worth the time. My conclusion is a carefulyes for some social network channels and certain intents (e.g., recruitment).JobseekersESellWorkColleagues(N-1) + (N)Past WorkColleagues(N-2+)WeakerinteractionsFriendsStars- CxO.- Industry leaders.- Thought leaders.- Endorsers.- Recruiters.- Star- & Super-connectors.IndustryFollowersOthers“LinkedIn isbecoming aprofessional’sYellow Pagespremium service.”Social networks are awonderful dynamic ‚beasts‛that develops with time.
  36. 36. My favourite social networks!“Twitter is a fantastic medium forsharing and exchanging thoughts, insultslies, innuendos & great insights. Don’ttrust everything* and then enjoy! ”“SlideShare is a great learning platform &remains largely un-explored data miningresource in presentation insights. ”* A very good read on social media manipulation see: Ryan Holiday ‚Trust me, I am lying (confessions of a media manipulator)‛
  37. 37. Recipe for a great transitionfrom Academia to Corporate!
  38. 38. Never forget your unique asset