Mobile would like to welcome Tom Alexander back to the world of work. The once professional karting driver has enjoyed a year out of the business to indulge his passion for racing his Aston Martin DB4 GT. While head of Virgin Mobile Alexander had a Scalextric track in the corner of his office. Colleagues at Orange should hope that be brings it with him to Paddington Basin, as it will be a sign that their new boss is itching to re-create the ethos that propelled Virgin to great things.
Alexander has his work cut out for him at Orange. The once vivid brand has lost its colour, profitability has fallen, acquisition costs are higher than they should be and its stores – once the envy of mobile retailers - look old hat and uninviting. Compared to its heyday under Hans Snook, the culture inside the company is flaccid and corporate.
It’s an awful lot for one man to change, and it will be fascinating to see just how much impact Alexander can have. Alexander has always thrived with partners – in racing he thrived with co drivers like Tiff Liddel, in business Richard Branson brought his best. Those who know him well say Alexander is an ideas and vision man and not an operations person. If he is to change the company culture he will need some partners in crime. So it’s a good sign that he has reportedly signed up Steven Day, his former corporate affairs director. More must surely follow.
Alexander may have managed just 12th place in the GT championship this year. But while greatness eluded on the track, he still has the chance to grab it in the boardroom by doing a big job at Orange.