From newspapers to easyJet? Simple


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Carolyn McCall was the star of last week’s Marketing Society conference, where the theme was how to “re-set” a business.

The easyJet chief executive has certainly done that since arriving in 2010 – despite no experience of aviation after 25 years at Guardian Media Group.

“It was very simple,” said McCall, explaining how she put the focus back on customers. She listened to what they wanted and that was to make flying… easy.

She introduced allocated seating to stop the bunfights; abolished hidden fees for baggage and card payments; added flexibilty for business passengers to change tickets up to two hours before a flight; insisted on honesty when planes run late, with customers updated via a mobile app; and encouraged staff to smile and be helpful.

When some testosterone-driven crew resisted, fearing it could slow the changeover or “turn time” between flights, she took her team to watch Formula 1 pit-stops. The result? Profits rose tenfold and the share price tripled.

Some of McCall’s clarity must have come from being an outsider, but she maintains there were many similarities with The Guardian. “A CEO is a CEO,” she said. “You’ve got to do a lot of the same things.”

Imagine how she could shake up things if she ever returns to the media and tries to put their customers first.

Telecoms party is just heating up

What a time Ed Richards has chosen to step down as chief executive of media regulator Ofcom after eight years, with a leaving party for the media planned for tonight.

In only the past seven days, the telecoms industry has embarked on a frenzy of consolidation, with BT set to buy mobile operator O2 or EE and another mobile giant, Vodafone, eyeing a tie-up with Virgin Media owner Liberty Global.

The merger of mobile, broadband and pay-TV companies makes sense as they converge on a single medium, the internet.

But it also owes much to how regulation by Ofcom – and the European Commission – has forced down prices and made these companies seek greater scale.

With Britain having some of the highest rates of smartphone and super-fast broadband adoption in the world, Richards must have got something right.