Sky recruits stateside for new CEO

Comcast Cable consumer president Dana Strong (pictured) will take over as the new group chief executive of Sky this year after longtime holder of the post Jeremy Darroch tendered his resignation.

US-based Strong has a track record in the industry that matches her name. She has been in her current role at Sky’s parent company for the past three years, having previously spent almost four years in London serving in senior roles at Sky’s arch-rival Virgin Media and its parent, Liberty Global; the most recent of those was as president and COO of Virgin Media.

Her career history also includes a couple of years in Dublin as CEO of cable operator UPC Ireland; nearly 12 years in Sydney in senior jobs at Austar, including chief operating officer; and some early experience in consulting in the US.

“Dana is an accomplished executive with an extraordinary ability to transform, inspire, and drive positive change. She quickly made her mark on our US business, driving growth and innovation with an unwavering commitment to our customers,” said Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, in a statement. “Her global experience and vision coupled with her leadership and track record at some of the largest media and telecommunications companies in the world make her the perfect leader for Sky.”

This is a crucial time for Sky. The company is in a solid position, with 24 million customers across its six European markets, and growth in revenues and earnings in the most recent financial year. But it is also a period of change for the media and entertainment industry, with an increasing number of providers from adjacent markets battling it out for premium sports and content rights – and customers, of course – and the rise of online services that has driven the likes of Sky to launch their own offerings, such as Now TV.

There is also the crossover into the connectivity world to consider. Sky has offered home broadband services for some time and late last year upped its game with the full launch of its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) offer based on Openreach’s wholesale product.

Sky needs a safe pair of hands to steer it over the next couple of years and Strong’s extensive experience makes her a good candidate to do just that.

Her predecessor, Darroch, who is stepping down after 13 years at the helm, will be on hand to ensure a smooth transition, moving into an executive chairman role this year and later into an advisory position.

“We are winning in all our markets, with a strong brand, exceptional products and services, and high levels of customer and employee satisfaction,” Darroch said. “We have an outstanding and experienced leadership team who I know will continue to evolve the business in the years to come.”

That last point will be key; the new chief executive will need to drive Sky’s evolution to enable it to stay both relevant and attractive to consumers amidst a continually-changing market landscape and the rise of increasing competition.

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