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Ofcom’s Sharon White to step down at Christmas

Chief executive will leave her role at the telecoms regulator at the end of 2019

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White has announced that she will leave the telecoms regulator around the end of 2019 to become chair of the John Lewis Partnership.

A former HM Treasury official, White was named to the post of Ofcom chief executive in late 2014 and officially took up the role in March 2015, becoming both the first woman and the first black person to lead the telecoms regulator.

She also made frequent appearances on both Computer Weekly’s UKTech50 Most Influential Person in UK IT list, and the Most Influential Women in UK IT.

Taking charge of Ofcom at a time of immense change in the telecoms sector, White made her mark immediately, taking charge of the regulator’s review of the telecoms market which ultimately saw the legal separation of BT and Openreach.

She also oversaw a number of moves by the regulator to open up and expand access to full-fibre broadband, to improve customer service levels among the UK’s comms service providers, and to lay the groundwork for 5G.

At one time, White also appeared as a cartoon superhero on billboards when she became the subject of a lobbying campaign led by mobile operator Three, urging her to address perceived mobile radio spectrum imbalance.

“It’s been a huge privilege to lead Ofcom at a time when reliable, affordable communications have become essential,” said White. “I will leave behind an organisation that is dedicated in its mission to make communications work for everyone.”

Ofcom chair Terence Burns said: “Sharon has been an outstanding chief executive for Ofcom and will be missed by the whole organisation. Under Sharon’s leadership, Ofcom has helped to deliver ultrafast broadband, widespread 4G mobile and now 5G, and became the first independent regulator of the BBC.”

The Ofcom board will shortly begin the process of looking for a successor.

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