Experiential / Reality-based Learning / February 22, 2011

CEO@Smith Hosts Pradman Kaul, Hughes Communications, Inc.

More than 175 people gathered in Frank Auditorium in the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Van Munching Hall on Feb. 22, 2011 to attend a CEO @ Smith session with Pradman Kaul, president and CEO of Hughes Communications, Inc.

Hughes is the world’s leading supplier of broadband satellite services and network solutions using interactive Very Small Aperture Terminal products. With annual revenues of more than $1 billion, Hughes provides satellite-based enterprise and consumer services and networks, mobile satellite networks and terminals, and broadband LMDS point-to-multipoint systems. Headquartered in Germantown, Md., Hughes has offices in 11 countries and customers in over 100 countries.

Kaul, who also continues as Chairman and CEO of Hughes Network Systems, LLC., talked to the students, faculty and staff in attendance about how satellite communications have changed the world.

“With global satellite coverage, hundreds of millions of people all over the world can receive satellite TV directly. They can watch CNN, NBC, Sky News, CNBC and other news stations. We are all watching the same news at the same time,” Kaul said. “There are no longer distant places in the world.”

Kaul talked about the history of satellites and how we’ve gotten to where we are today with satellite communications. He also discussed the issue of what happens to satellites in space when they are no longer of use, in response to a question from the audience during the Q&A session.

“If you look at the Earth’s gravitational field, it looks like an apple. When a satellite is in a particular location, it tends to drift toward what we call the satellite graveyard,” Kaul explained.

“When a satellite is in operation it drifts a little bit, so we fire a little rocket to push it back to its normal position. … The life of a satellite is determined by that action because once you run out of fuel to push it back, it keeps going that way toward the satellite graveyard – and it will stay that way,” he reassured. “Very few of them, if any that I know of, will drop back to Earth – there is a lot of space up there for those guys.”

Kaul said that at Hughes, they value innovative employees who “work smart” and are driven. He advised those in attendance to always “do what you say you are going to do – not only to your boss, to your company, to your wife, to your kids, to your friends: That fundamental belief that if you commit to something you must do it – That is a core value at Hughes.”

Before joining Hughes, Kaul worked at COMSAT Laboratories in Clarksburg, Md. He holds numerous patents and has published articles and papers on a variety of technical topics concerning satellite communications. In 2009, he was both inducted into the Society of Satellite Professionals International Hall of Fame and awarded “Satellite Executive of the Year 2008” by Via Satellite magazine.

Jessica Bauer, Writer and Editor, Office of Marketing Communications

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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