The Business On... Olivia Garfield, Chief executive, BT Openreach


Do I know her?

You soon will – she's going to be one of the next big stars of British business. Ms Garfield was promoted to chief executive of BT's Openreach division yesterday at the tender age of 35. Not before time mind you – she's been tipped for the top for ages.



Is this a big job?

Yes. With annual sales of £5bn and 19,000 engineers, Openreach would be at least a FTSE 250 company were it to be independent. It's the bit of BT responsible for the "final mile", the connection between the network and households and businesses. One vital task for Ms Garfield will be to supervise the roll-out of super-fast fibre broadband to two-thirds of Britain.



So what do we know about her?

She read languages at Cambridge and then then joined management consultancy Accenture. She moved to BT in 2003 and has climbed the ranks very speedily, though she's also found the time to have two children. Her friends call her Liv.



And she's a woman?

Very well spotted. Her gender is worth noting only because of the well-documented shortage of women at the top levels of British business. This isn't a board-ranking job, but it clearly isn't going to be long before Ms Garfield adds her name to the very short list of female executive directors of large British companies.



So how has she done it?

Talent and enthusiasm (colleagues describe her as voluble). She caught the eye of management after turning around the performance of the first BT business unit she joined and has impressed with her strategic vision. Cranfield Business School named her as one of its "100 Business Women to Watch" last year and Pepsi had her down as one of its "Business Women of the Future" as early as 2008.



Any danger of her burning out?

There's no reason to think so, but the Openreach job comes with a number of challenges that would tax anyone. It gives Ms Garfield a public exposure she hasn't yet had to deal with and the broadband project is particularly high-profile – she'll get it in the neck from everyone from ministers down should she fail to deliver.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea