Brendan Sullivan is passionate about technology – both for the dramatic changes it’s already produced and those that are coming. Specifically, he’s jazzed about technology developed by RigNet and how it will dovetail with Viasat’s expanding satellite bandwidth.
Sullivan served as both chief technical officer and chief information officer for RigNet, which Viasat acquired in April, 2021. He is now Viasat’s senior vice president of Intelligent Edge Solutions.
RigNet provides global, end-to-end, secure managed communications service and installation capabilities, along with digital transformation solutions, which will enable Viasat to quickly expand into new adjacent industries — including renewable energy, transportation, maritime, mining, and other enterprise markets
“This is the most cutting-edge stuff on planet Earth, and everybody in enterprise and industry wants to do this kind of digital transformation,” Sullivan said. “But the bandwidth required to trial new remote operations is really expensive, and that’s been a limiter for RigNet.
The combination of ViaSat-3’s upcoming global coverage and RigNet’s technology “is really going to create a flywheel effect,” he added.
That means achieving greatness is a gradual accomplishment, not something that happens in one fell swoop. “We’ll be able to offer businesses immediate value, and we’ll be looking at serious growth.”
A growing love of technology
Sullivan’s love of technology has intensified throughout his life, though it wasn’t his initial career choice. While he was drawn to technical hobbies and research grants in school, he majored in anthropology at Brown University.
But even at his first job as an archaeological consultant, Sullivan says he was a “computer-savvy archaeologist,” pioneering the early use of GPS, AutoCAD and ground-penetrating radar to 3D-model lost cities.
When Sullivan tired of archaeology, he joined a health-care consulting company called Accenture, where he found his niche in programming. In 2000, he moved to Level 3 Communications as one of the company’s early wave of IT employees. He was working in emerging-market development when Level 3 hit an acquisition phase, and Sullivan helped integrate the new companies into one.
A decade later, Sullivan became chief information officer of DG Fastchannel, where he ran a distribution network for television commercials in 100 countries. From there, he became head of technology at Hollywood-based Vubiquity, the world’s largest distributor of movies and television shows. As fast-paced and fascinating as the job was, Sullivan burned out on the Hollywood lifestyle. That’s when someone suggested he consider RigNet, which among other things, provided secure communications at more than 1,200 onshore and offshore sites around the world.
When Sullivan joined in 2017, oil prices had tumbled. And while that may have appeared to be a terrible time to join a company built around the oil and gas industry, it was perfect for Sullivan.
The company’s then-CEO was rebuilding the management team with an eye toward growing market share in global energy and expanding service offerings like machine-learning analytics and cybersecurity.