Sharon white, who has been chief executive of Ofcom since March 2015, will be taking the job of chairman for retail giant John Lewis.
White’s oversaw some crucial developments at Ofcom during her tenure as chief executive. These included the overseeing separation BT’s Openreach operation from the telecoms provider’s core business, and Rupert Murdoch’s sale of Sky; and leading Ofcom to become the first organisation to externally regulate the BBC. Under White’s leadership, Ofcom was also forced to deal with the growing influence of some organisations that fell outside of her remit, such as Facebook and Netflix. She leaves the regulator during a period of great change, when Ofcom is looking to play a more integral role in the regulation of the internet.
Prior to Ofcom, White worked for the treasury, overseeing many aspects of public finances as well as holding senior positions within both the Department for International Development and the Ministry for Justice. Ms White currently holds a position of non-executive board member of Barratt Developments, a FTSE 100 residential construction company as well as being a trustee of Sadler’s Wells Trust. The services of an individual which such an illustrious career do not come cheap and Ms White is expected be commanding an eye watering salary of £990,000 per annum, close to double what she took home with Ofcom.
John Lewis, a household name for many years in the retail industry has fallen on hard times as of late with profits for both John Lewis and Waitrose plummeting due to the rise of discount retailers and online shopping. In March the retail giant revealed its profits had sunk 45% at £160m with the resulting financial hardship resulting in the staff bonus dropping to 3% – its lowest since 2013 when it was a whopping 17%.
Ms White has long been an admirer of the John Lewis and was quoted as saying “I am a passionate believer in the Partnership: Partners working together for each other’s wellbeing with the confidence to invest for the long-term and a focus on delivering for our customers in a rapidly changing retail environment.
“In my current role, my vision has been to ensure that consumers in fast-moving markets get high quality, reliable services at fair prices, from thriving businesses they can trust. Social purpose and commercial success flourish best together, which is why I am looking forward so much to working with Partners as we move ahead together.”
It is not surprising then that John Lewis chose such an experienced public servant to guide them through rocky waters, a woman who until the most recent announcement was touted to be the next governor for the Bank of England.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, the outgoing chairman of John Lewis said Sir Charlie Mayfield, the outgoing chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: “Sharon White has had a stellar career in a number of senior strategic and executive roles and during a thorough, wide-ranging and extremely competitive search she stood out as an exceptional candidate. I believe she has the vision, leadership, drive and flair to steer the partnership through its next phase.”