In a landmark decision, BT has chosen Allison Kirkby as its new chief executive, making history by appointing its first female CEO. Kirkby, a seasoned player in the telecoms industry, is set to replace Philip Jansen and carry forward his vision of streamlining the company, which includes a significant reduction in its workforce.
Allison Kirkby's journey to BT's top position traces back to her role as the CEO of the Swedish telecoms giant, Telia. However, she is not a new face in the BT boardroom, having been a non-executive director since 2019. Kirkby will conclude her leadership at Telia by January 2024 to fully assume her responsibilities at BT.
Philip Jansen's tenure as BT’s CEO saw the announcement of significant job reductions, aiming to trim as many as 55,000 roles by 2030. This move was attributed to the rising influence of artificial intelligence and the need for a leaner organizational structure. Kirkby, having endorsed this strategy as a board member, is expected to continue this trajectory.
Speaking about her upcoming role, Kirkby stated, “I’m fully supportive of our strategy and am excited about leading it into its next phase of development, as we grow to support customers, shareholders, and the UK economy.”
Allison Kirkby's career is both diverse and noteworthy. Starting as a chartered management accountant with the drinks giant, Guinness, in 1990, she later spent two decades with Procter & Gamble. Her entrance into the telecoms arena began with Virgin Media, and she later spearheaded companies like Tele2 and TDC.
Her compensation at BT matches that of her predecessor, Jansen, with a base salary of £1.1m. However, bonuses and share award schemes could potentially quadruple her earnings.
With Kirkby's appointment, the number of female CEOs in FTSE 100 companies returns to ten, especially after the recent departure of NatWest Group’s Alison Rose. Other notable female chief executives include Margherita Della Valle of Vodafone, Debra Crew of Diageo, and Liv Garfield of Severn Trent, among others.
Adam Crozier, the BT Group chair, applauded Kirkby's selection, noting, “She is a proven leader, with deep sector experience and a history of having transformed businesses."
Given BT's significant presence, not just in the UK but globally, its role in advancing digitalization is critical. Kirkby emphasized, "Our products and services have never been more important to how our customers live and work." With her at the helm, BT is poised to further strengthen its position in the telecom industry and bolster its digital infrastructure investments.
In conclusion, Allison Kirkby's appointment marks a progressive step for BT. With her wealth of experience and vision, the telecom giant is well-positioned for its next phase of growth and transformation.