BT has announced a successor for outgoing boss Philip Jansen, as Allison Kirkby, a former chief of Nordic telecoms giant Telia.
The ailing British telecoms group appointed its first female boss in its 170 year history, who will take the reins from Jansen starting January 2024 “at the latest”.
Jansen will continue to serve until Kirkby, who has been a non-executive director at BT since 2019, takes over.
“The Board is delighted to have appointed Allison as our new Chief Executive,” said Adam Crozier, BT chairman.
“She is a proven leader, with deep sector experience and a history of having transformed businesses. I look forward to supporting her as we drive our long-term strategy to transform BT Group, ensuring it delivers for all our stakeholders,” he added.
Previously, Kirkby was president & CEO of Nordic telecoms provider, Telia Company, since early 2020.
Kirkby said she feels “incredibly honoured” to have been appointed by BT because it is “such an important company for the UK, and our many customers both in the UK and internationally and is uniquely placed to help everyone benefit from the rapid advances in digitalisation.”
She said she sees BT as “playing an even more important role going forward” due to its heavy investment in digital infrastructure and in the modernisation of its services.
In May, the struggling firm revealed plans to reduce its workforce by up to 42 per cent over the next seven years, aiming to achieve cost reduction and transform into a more streamlined business.
“Having been a member of the BT Group Board for the past four years, I’m fully supportive of our strategy and am excited about leading it into its next phase of development,” she added.
Earlier in July, Jansen announced he would be stepping down at the right moment but analysts warned his replacement has their work cutout as the firm continues to embark on an ambitious nation-wide rollout of full fibre broadband.
The British mobile network operator’s revenue grew to nearly £5.2m in the first quarter this year, up four per cent from the same period in 2022.
Kirkby qualified as a chartered management accountant in 1990 at Guinness then spent 20 years at Procter & Gamble before moving to Virgin Media in the telecoms industry.
She led Tele2 and TDC, Swedish and Danish telecoms companies, from 2015 to 2020.
In the top seat at BT she is set to receive an annual sum of £1.1m, with the figure potentially quadrupling under bonus and share awards.
Her appointment brings the number of female FTSE 100 chief executives back to 10.
Commenting on the news, Steve Clayton, head of equity funds at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “Alison Rose might have stepped down as NatWest Group CEO last week, but the numbers of leading female FTSE 100 bosses is back up already.”
Other female bosses include Vodafone’s Margherita Della Valle, Amanda Blanc at the insurer Aviva and Liv Garfield as former leader at BT’s Openreach subsidiary and chief executive at the water company Severn Trent.
Shares in BT were down nearly one per cent this morning.
Paolo Pescatore, media analyst at PP Foresight, said Kirkby’s credentials “speak for themselves” and the fact she is already familiar with BT’s long-term transformative strategy suggests it is unlikely to change.
He argued “it might have been time to promote from within the BT ranks rather than recruit another external CEO,” who needs time to “get up to speed and establish new connections with everyone”.
“There’s still more to be done in rolling out fibre and deciding the best option for the business unit which has been underperforming,” Pescatore added.