Read Olaf Swantee's Power 50 profile for 20134 June 2013
Olaf Swantee has thrown himself fully into transforming Britain’s biggest operator. Insiders speak of a demanding yet visionary leader, who sets tight deadlines and high targets but gives teams the support they need to implement results.
What his tireless drive has resulted in is the outmanoeuvring of its rivals to launch 4G months ahead of the competition, finally putting that pesky Everything Everywhere brand to the sword by launching EE and sweeping the names of Orange and T-Mobile from shopfronts literally overnight. Then there’s reorganising its customer service teams, launching a new marketing campaign, rearranging its sponsorship focus - the list goes on.
But it is on 4G that Swantee has most impressed. Launching the next generation service early caused so much anger that it looked at one point like the whole spectrum auction would be derailed by a trip to the courtroom. It could be argued that Swantee’s gamble actually sped up the process, with operators ultimately choosing to work together and introduce their next generation services quicker than previously planned. While Swantee has been criticised for the high pricing and low data allowances of its 4G offer, it could be argued that he is cannily playing the longer game by not revealing its true 4G plans until its rivals hit the market. And lowballing on 4G would damage margins; a crucial thing to watch ahead of an expected flotation later this year.
The EE of 2013 is light years away from the flabby basket case of yesteryear, and that has been down to Swantee’s vision and drive.