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Interview with Andy Valdar, Associate Director at The ITP

Andy Valdar, the newly appointed Associate Director at the ITP, brings extensive telecom and academia experience, having served on the ITP Board for over 13 years.

Andy Valdar's career, starting in 1965 at Loughborough University, spans significant contributions to the UK's telecom sector. Over 30 years at British Telecom, he specialised in network planning during the digital shift, establishing key initiatives. Internationally, a three-year ITU secondment in India in 1977 sparked an interest in teaching telecoms. Returning to the UK, he co-authored a textbook and later ventured into product management at BT, gaining commercial insights. Joining UCL in 1999, Andy directed BT MSc courses, published textbooks, and contributed to a new MSc program. Despite formal retirement in 2013, he remains a Visiting Professor, engaging in part-time lecturing and student project supervision. His legacy is a condensed narrative of expertise and leadership in the telecom industry.

As an ITP associate, his primary focus is on advancing the engagement of ITP Fellows in the organisation's activities and enriching their overall experience. He will also continue as the ITP Board's main contact for our FITCE membership.

Wondering what motivated Andy to assume the position of ITP Associate Director? Here's the insight he provided!

After 13 years as director on the main ITP Board, I felt the time was right to step back. Being an Associate Director offers the chance to move to the background but still be able to make a small contribution where appropriate to the management of the ITP.

Andy Valdar

1. Please share some insights into your career journey, including any standout moments or highlights you'd like our members to know about.

My career began in 1965 when I started my four-year Degree course at Loughborough University, one year of which was spent as a ‘student apprentice’ working for Thorn Electrical Co. On graduating with Bachelor of Technology degree I began my focus on telecom by joining the GPO as an Executive Engineer in 1969.  Two years later I was awarded a place on the sponsored full-time MSc Telecoms Systems course at Essex University.

For most of my 30 years in, what became, British Telecom I was fortunate to be in the network planning and strategy departments when many of the fundamental changes in the UK’s telecom network were being addressed. The salient one being the huge task of replacing the analogue transmission and telephone switching networks by digital technology (PCM-TDM).  I helped establish the national digital network synchronisation plan, and the deployment strategy for rolling out System X exchanges across the country.  Subsequently, I became involved in international standards work with the ITU (CCITT) and ETSI covering digital switching and ISDN. In the latter years I headed up the BT Network Strategy Department, which covered all aspects of the network including the early days of digital data (pre-Internet), numbering and addressing, national regulation, and the annual network strategy plans. I had the honour of presenting these plans to the BT Operational Board for several years. Another highlight for me was being involved in BT’s response to the Monopoly & Mergers Commission (MNC) reference on telephone number portability.

In 1977 I was seconded for three years to the ITU working for the UN development programme in India, moving with my family to New Delhi. It was there that my interest in teaching telecoms began.  After returning to the UK, a couple of BT colleagues and I prepared and ran several short courses for the ITU in India and Bangladesh – which formed the basis of my first textbook co-authored with Felix Redmill (SPC Digital Telephone Exchanges) published by the IEE in 1990. 

My career in BT also included a 2-year diversion into the product management of digital private circuits (‘KiloStream’ and ‘MegaStream’), and later covering the embryonic centrex and voice VPN services.  This gave me a good appreciation of the commercial realities of digital services.

The second part of my career started in 1999, when I joined UCL as Director of dedicated BT MSc courses (the ‘BT Masters Programme’ and the ‘BT Telcom Engineering course’). During this time my textbook ‘Understanding Telecoms Networks’ was published followed by a revised and updated second edition.  Finally, I was delighted to be involved in the setting up of a new open MSc course ‘Telecommunications with Business’, which is now in its 14th year. This led to fellow Editorial Board member, Ian Morfett, and I writing the companion textbook ‘Understanding Telecom Business’.

I formally retired from UCL in 2013 but I still retain my Visiting Professorship, and I continue with some lecturing and student project supervision on a part-time basis.

2. What inspired you to join the ITP as an associate board director?

After 13 years as director on the main ITP Board, I felt the time was right to step back. Being an Associate Director offers the chance to move to the background but still be able to make a small contribution where appropriate to the management of the ITP.

3. What would you say are the benefits of being an ITP associate board director?

Of course it is early days, but I think the main benefit of being an Associate Director will be that one can gain access to the main ITP Board when relevant matters are being considered.

4. As an associate of the ITP, what particular areas do you plan to focus on, and what initiatives or contributions do you have in mind to support both ITP members and the organisation as a whole?

I plan to focus on how best to develop the involvement of the ITP Fellows in the organisation’s work and enhance their experience.  I want to help to make them feel pride in and benefit from their status as ITP Fellows.  I also want to continue as the ITP Board’s main contact for our FITCE membership.

5. In your view, what sets the ITP apart from other professional organisations or associations within the industry?

I think that there are two main aspects that sets the ITP apart.

Firstly, the ITP is focussed on the field of telecommunications – covering technology, network design, planning and operations, training, as well as the services, regulation, customer expectations and social issues.

Secondly, as the name implies, the ITP addresses the interests of all professionals – marketing, commercial, regulatory, operational, and not just engineering aspects of the telecommunications world.

6. Would you recommend fellow telecom professionals to become involved with the ITP, and if so, what reasons or benefits would you highlight?

I frequently recommend to people in the industry that they consider joining the ITP.  One of the arguments I use is that because of the ITPs wide scope of coverage of telecom matters, members gain an appreciation of all the important developments and issues going on beyond their personal speciality.  Furthermore, every effort is made in the ITP Journal and the Seminars to describe the relationships between the different threads.