Helen Freestone

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Helen Freestone

UK director, Partnerships & Alliances, Vodafone

Which tech figurehead do you admire the most?

Satya Nadella, Microsoft chief executive. I met Satya before he became chief executive; he has a quiet charisma that colleagues and customers instantly warm to. He genuinely cares. More than that, I admire the way he has transformed Microsoft since becoming chief executive, not just in terms of their vision for cloud, but also their people culture and innovation.

What's the biggest challenge facing the industry no-one is talking about yet?

With pressures on resources, liveable space and growing populations, we need technology to support us in environments we cannot even conceive. This might be in space, in virtual environments, or how we might begin merging with technology through connected implants - for example, nanobots fighting off illnesses in our bloodstream.

If you could invite three famous people to dinner, who would they be?

I'd love the chance to quiz a few people. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and General George Patton - I'd ask them, how did you really do it? How close did we come? And did you ever think you were not going to make this? Then, the great sci-fi writer, Isaac Asimov - your future is becoming our reality; what does the new future hold and where can sci-fi go next?

How has 2017 been for you?

Awesome! I landed the job I want in the company I want to work for.

What's the most extravagant business lunch you've ever had?

The business lunches that really stick in my mind are the unusual ones where you really get to know someone. I remember a long-standing customer took me to lunch at a kosher restaurant which was then attached to the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London. She told me some of the history of the Synagogue, that it was the oldest in London and she spoke openly about her faith and why she practised, what Kosher meant and why it was important to her. It was over 10 years ago, but that memory, what we ate and our conversation has always stayed with me.

Which global city best matches your personality?

New York - fast-paced, intense, never satisfied, always moving forward, diverse, inclusive, creative, tough - the best city in the world.

What would be your super-hero power?

The power of truthfulness. Everyone I spoke to had to tell me the absolute truth, giving a straight answer to a straight question. Or a Time Lord. Or to be able to transform into a cat at will. 

Complete this sentence. The worst thing about our rivals is…they are not Vodafone!

What makes you nervous?

My 21-year-old stepdaughter's bedroom - best avoided!

If you could eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Dark chocolate truffles washed down with a very nice single malt.

Sum up the channel in three words

Innovative, awesome, evolving.

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