Considering what used to be the rate of churn of the tenure of the CEO of Vodafone, Guy Laurence’s longevity at the helm is impressive. He will mark five years in the job in January 2014, in sharp contrast with the revolving door of six CEOs in 10 years that preceded him. And given his actions during the past 12 months, he is clearly planning for many years to come.
Vodafone made a number of impressive strategic moves during the past year. Chief among them was its spending spree during this year’s 4G auction. The UK’s third biggest operator was the biggest spender, splashing out almost £800m in securing spectrum on which it will run next generation services.
Laurence also made sure the equipment is in place to use the spectrum effectively, tying up a deal with O2 to share its network infrastructure. The Cornerstone project has been seen by analysts as a way that both companies could save hundreds of millions of pounds. A frugal move, particularly when operators are being hammered by changes to regulation.
Vodafone UK’s CEO is also at the centre of leading the integration of Cable and Wireless Worldwide into its network. Laurence is confident the move will lead to a much better quality network than its rivals – no bad thing, as 4G competition is set to reach fever pitch later this year. Before it had even bought spectrum, Vodafone was throwing invective at rival EE in a multi-million pound campaign last year. Laurence has the long game in mind.