Inbound BT CEO Allison Kirkby faces challenge of leading telco through cuts in 2024

A telephoto shot of incoming BT CEO Allison Kirkby, speaking at MWC Barcelona.
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BT has announced it has appointed Allison Kirkby as its new CEO, as the company maintains its course on proposed cuts.

Kirkby, who is BT’s first-ever female CEO, is currently president and CEO at Swedish telco giant Telia and has previously led Danish, Swedish, and Baltic telecoms TDC and Tele2.

Her first year in the position will open against the backdrop of a wave of layoffs at the firm, spearheaded by outgoing CEO Philip Jansen.

In May, BT announced it would slash 55,000 members of staff by 2030 in a series of vast cost-saving measures. The firm has sought to digitize its processes and lean on artificial intelligence (AI) more as it aims to save £3 billion ($3.86 billion) by 2025.

“I’m incredibly honored to have been appointed as the next chief executive of BT Group,” said Kirkby.

“BT 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 digitalization.

“Our products and services have never been more important to how our customers live and work, and thanks to the significant investment BT is putting into digital infrastructure and in the modernization of its services, I see us playing an even more important role going forward. 


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“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, as we grow to support customers, shareholders, and the UK economy.”

Jansen announced his resignation on 10 July, having led BT for four years in which the company’s value fell by almost 40%.

As the new executive face of the company, Kirkby will fall under pressure to turn this trend around. As a backer of the policies, she is already locked into the majority of cuts and difficult business decisions to come.

The firm’s Q1 2024 results showed signs of growth for the company, with pro forma adjusted revenue up 4% year-on-year at £5.2 billion ($6.69 billion). 

A portion of this was linked to Openreach price rises and improved sales of fiber-enabled products, though the group also revealed equipment trading in its Business unit had improved.

Paolo Pescatore, telecoms analyst at PP Foresight, told ITPro that Kirkby’s career credentials speak for themselves, and that her existing close relationships with the firm have made her familiar with the processes and strategy of the firm as a whole.

“This suggests the strategy is unlikely to change with Kirkby set to continue following Jansen’s transformational program. Managing BT is no easy feat due to numerous stakeholders including Ofcom, the UK government, pension, and unions as well as others. 

“An external person always needs time to get up to speed and establish new connections with everyone. Arguably it might have been time to promote from within the BT ranks rather than recruit another external CEO.”

Pescatore also said that BT has more work to do in its fiber rollout, and for improving the performance of its Business unit.

Within the results, BT announced it is 44% of the way towards its target of reaching 25 million UK premises with fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband by 2026.

Though BT’s Business unit saw a 3% year-on-year revenue increase in Q1 2023, it contributed just 100,000 of the 2 million overall FTTP customers added across the period.

Jansen will leave the company at the end of January 2024, and Kirkby will take over at an as-yet-disclosed date following this.

Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at or on LinkedIn.