Rene Meza, longtime Managing Director (MD) at Airtel Kenya has resigned and left for Vodacom Tanzania where he takes over as new MD. He has immediately been replaced by Shivan Bhargava who takes over in the same capacity but under a different title – Chief Operations Officer (COO).Meza’s resignation comes slightly more than a month after rumours circulated that he had resigned, together with the firm’s Network Director, John Barorot who also handed in a 3 week resignation notice. John Barorot joined Airtel in May this year after being restructured out of Safaricom earlier on this year.
While confirming that Barorot was leaving Airtel, the firm denied that Meza would also be leaving. Barorot resigned towards the end of July 2011 in unclear circumstances just 3 months after joining the firm.
Meza was initially the MD of Tanzania’s Tigo before joining Zain Kenya in July 2008. The firm was later to be purchased by Airtel in July 2010. Vodacom, Meza’s new employer, is partly owned by Vodafone which also owns 35% of Safaricom. Airtel has engaged Safricom in fierce competition that has seen the slashing of rates since it took over Zain.
Bhargava, the new COO was formerly Bharti Airtel’s Chief Operating Officer Gujarat Circle, a position he held for the past two and a half years. He has also served as COO Bharti Airtel Orissa Circle, VP for Sales & marketing at Bharti Airtel and as a Regional Logistics & Planning Manager at Coca-Cola.
His LinkedIn profile also indicates that he has studied at the Ghaziabad Institute of Management Technology and is a Bachelor in Engineering graduate at Nagpur University.
Bhargava joins on a high after launching 3G in India’s Gujarat Circle recently. The Gujarat circle is an economic powerhouse in India and attracted the highest bid for 3G licences in India which were auctioned per circle. Gujarat is the 7th largest mobile user base in India with 34.6 subscribers accounting for 6% of India’s mobile base. Bharti was the third largest in active mobile users in the state with slightly above 5million users or 15%.