06 December 2021

Kamal Antoun directorHughes Network Systems

Kamal Antoun director Hughes Network Systems

What is your big career break or highlight so far?
One of my career highlights so far has been joining Hughes Network Systems after being with my previous employer for 13 years. I have been with Hughes as the Director of our Middle East North Africa region for 3 years now, so I’m still relatively new around here compared to many of my colleagues. It’s very exciting to be part of a company with such a long and celebrated history in the satellite industry – this year marks our 50th anniversary!

What was your first job?
My very first job, I worked in an accounting department – I only lasted one week in an office in between two chain smokers. But my first real job, I worked for Cisco systems as part of their systems engineering team. And many years later, it all led me to where I am today with Hughes!

Who was your hero growing up?
I used to love Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, he was my hero growing up. But I get inspiration from every single person, regardless of which industry they are in. I look to people who try their absolute best and put their heart into their job, whether it’s in sports or another industry, they all inspire me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I think the best piece of advice I’ve gotten in life is to enjoy everything in moderation. The best piece of advice I’ve been given in my career is to learn how to listen – although that advice could serve you well both in your career and in life in general! Sometimes we forget to sit back and listen to what others have to say, but being an active listener is such a valuable quality as you grow and develop in your career.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone wanting to enter this industry?
I think it’s so important to keep up with market trends if you want to stay up to date in the satellite industry – read articles, listen to podcasts, subscribe to industry publications, follow the discussion on social media, etc. You should also strive to learn everything you can about your competitors. Knowing the competition inside and out is very helpful in my line of work in particular – sales – when you are trying to negotiate and ultimately win a deal. You must understand how to position your offer and product in comparison to the competition.

What’s the best technological advancement of your lifetime?
Without a doubt, the Internet. And smart phones. They have changed our lives dramatically, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine what my life would be without either of these innovations. They have impacted every aspect of our lives – our ability to work remotely, the way we purchase things, how we book appointments, do our banking, etc. I am able to instantly connect with my friends and colleagues around the world because of the power of the Internet. Just imagine this pandemic without the ease of access to information, I think we would have faced the biggest economic depression of our lifetime otherwise.

If you could work in any other industry, which one would it be?
If I weren’t in the satellite industry, I think it would be so cool to have a career in sports. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a soccer player. I love all sports -- apart from baseball and cricket (sorry if I offend anyone!). Soccer, American football, basketball, all the motor sports, I just love them all and it would have been incredible to turn that into a career.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I love where I live, in Dubai, because it is a safe, modern, and diverse city. But if I could move anywhere in the world, I would have to say the French or Italian riviera. Or San Diego -- anywhere there is a sea and beach, I am happy. I don’t think I could live somewhere if I cannot see the sea. I am fortunate to have been to a lot of amazing destinations over the years and I absolutely I love traveling with my wife and kids.

What is the best thing about your job?
I love engaging with people of different cultures and nationalities as part of my job covering the entire Middle East and North Africa region. I get to meet with and talk to so many different people all over the globe. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to travel to a variety of interesting locations I might not otherwise get to visit. Although, during the pandemic, I feel sort of like a fish out of water, being a salesman without any travel on the horizon. I hope to get back out and start travelling again soon!

What is the hardest thing about your job?
Although it’s one of my favorite things about the job, traveling is also one of the hardest parts of the job. It’s so hard to be away from family for long periods of time. And as a salesperson, it can be difficult when we don’t hit our targets. We work all year long to hit our sales goals and that’s how we measure our success.

What do you want to do when you retire?
I would like to travel more with my wife and kids – if, by the time I retire, they still want to travel with us! I would like to help underprivileged people back in my country, in Lebanon, if I have the means and the opportunity to do so. And maybe we would settle down and retire in another city I love, in Cape Town, South Africa. There are so many possibilities to consider, but luckily, I still have many years before I have to make any decisions!

What is the best business lesson you have learned?
Don’t hesitate – always be ready to spring into action. You never know what you might miss out on if you wait too long to seize the moment right in front of you. It has taught me to always be prepared no matter the situation.

What is one lesson you’ll take from the pandemic?
Although this has been a very tough stretch for all of us, there are always lessons to be learned from our experiences. Always be flexible and ready to adapt and change – you never know what life will throw at you, so you must be ready for anything. And just try to make the best of any situation, there is always a silver lining to be found.

What is the biggest challenge the industry faces at the moment?
I think we face the same challenge as many other industries right now as we adjust to the post-pandemic economy and environment. The fact that some regions are opening up while others continue in lockdown makes it difficult to resume travelling. And while we’ve all learned to operate virtually, you cannot undervalue the opportunity to meet in person.

What is the best part about working in this industry?
I love that I have the opportunity to be at the forefront of new trends and innovation driving market growth. Technology is constantly changing and evolving so it’s very exciting to have a front row seat as we explore new and improved forms of connectivity.

Which competitor do you admire the most and why?
In my role as part of the sales team, I am always keeping an eye on the competition - it is crucial to know what others in the industry are up to. I don’t want to single out any particular company but I respect all of our competitors. A bit of healthy competition is beneficial to us all – it keeps us on our toes and pushes us to continue innovating.

Which industry leader do you most admire and why?
While there are so many inspirational leaders to choose from, I’d have to say Pradman Kaul, president and CEO of Hughes. He has helped shape this company into what it is today and I feel honored to call him a colleague. A true industry pioneer, he has demonstrated excellence in technology development, production management and leadership. His vision and commitment to innovation are a huge part of our success at Hughes over the last 50 years. Not to mention he is humble and approachable – always willing to share his insights about the satellite industry and connectivity solutions.