(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 11th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –
BT chief executive Philip Jansen has hired Harmeen Mehta to become the company's first digital chief, Sky News learns.
The chief executive of BT Group is accelerating his drive to modernise the former state monopoly by poaching one of India's most highly regarded technology executives to lead the company's digital transformation.
Sky News has learnt that Harmeen Mehta, who has spent the last seven years at Bharti Airtel, the telecoms giant, is to join BT as chief digital and innovation officer.
The post has been created by group chief executive Philip Jansen in order to capitalise on the surging shift towards digital consumption and demand during the coronavirus pandemic, according to people briefed on the appointment.
Ms Mehta, who has also held roles at HSBC and Bank of American Merrill Lynch, will report directly to Mr Jansen.
An announcement is expected to be made on Tuesday.
Insiders said her responsibilities would include BT's IT, digital innovation and the company's data and product strategy.
Her arrival will come as Mr Jansen stamps his mark on a company which has for many years been regarded as slow to embrace shifts towards digital technology.
The BT chief, who arrived in 2019, is keen to accelerate the pace at which BT delivers innovative products and services to residential and business customers.
That will include greater investment in cloud-focused activities as well as digital platforms operating in areas such as health and security, which have not traditionally been bedrocks of BT's strategy.
Insiders said that as part of Mr Jansen's shake-up, which will include the creation of a dedicated Technology Advisory Board, Mike Sherman, BT's chief strategy and transformation officer, would be leaving the company.
BT is understood to have seen a sharp improvement in customer metrics such as its Net Promoter Score in the last year, suggesting that Mr Jansen's efforts are starting to pay off.
He is restructuring the business as it continues to contend with pressure from rivals – including Sky News' immediate parent company – to speed up reforms relating to Openreach, its broadband infrastructure arm – and the industry regulator, Ofcom.
BT's board has discussed in the last six months the prospect of the former state-owned company receiving an unsolicited takeover bid from a rival such as Deutsche Telekom, or a private equity firm.
The company's vast pension deficit is seen as the major obstacle to such an approach, while BT's shares have recovered in recent months.
On Monday afternoon, shares in BT were trading at just over 142p, giving it a market capitalisation of just over £14bn.
BT declined to comment.
By Mark Kleinman