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Digicel hunting new CEO as Philbert set to depart

Published:Friday | October 30, 2020 | 12:14 AM
Allison Philbert, outgoing CEO of Digicel Jamaica.
Allison Philbert, outgoing CEO of Digicel Jamaica.

Digicel Jamaica is on the hunt for a new CEO, continuing the high turnover at the top that will see its sixth leader in eight years, with an average rotation of less than two years.

Allison Philbert’s departure is expected by year end.

Philbert has worked with Digicel Jamaica for less than two years, joining initially in February 2019 as team leader for the company’s digital transformation initiative, then promoted later in the year, and has been CEO for 15 months, so far, during which she led the execution of the programme in this market with the launch last week of various apps and bundles, spanning services related to sports, music, news, local radio, podcasts, messaging, marketplaces and cloud storage.

Efforts to get from Digicel Group a broader explanation of what the digital roll-out meant for the company going forward were unsuccessful. The Financial Gleaner was referred back to the telecoms’ press release.

Jamaica is one of Digicel Group’s largest markets and is important to the cash generation needed to meet the group’s heavy debt-financing obligations on more than US$5 billion of borrowings. It’s unclear by how much Digicel’s rebranding as a ‘digital operator’ is expected to drive up revenue for Jamaica and the group.

Philbert’s tenure as CEO is short-lived, but she has set no record in that regard. Irishman David Hunter resigned after three to four months in 2008, and Andy Thorburn left after about nine months in early 2013.

Since Mark Linehan’s tenure, which lasted around four years up to 2012, Digicel has had five more CEOs, whose tenures, with one exception, have been less than two years: Thorburn, Barry O’Brien, David Butler, Justin Morin and lastly Philbert. Butler served for two and a half years.

Philbert was the first woman to run the company owned by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien over its near two-decade history, but the second Jamaican, behind Morin, whom she succeeded. Morin ran Digicel Jamaica from October 2017 to July 2019.