Magazine article Marketing

Concert's Maestro

Magazine article Marketing

Concert's Maestro

Article excerpt

BT's plans to dominate the global telecoms market hit the headlines last week with the announcement that its joint venture with US telecoms giant MCI, known as Concert, will be developed into a full-blown merger. And Kathleen Flaherty, BT's first business communications marketing director, is the woman who helped create that brand.

Flaherty is the new face of BT's massive business communications operation and she has a reputation for being a tough woman. She has already poached one of the brightest men in marketing, Dominic Owens, from arch-rival Mercury Communications.

A super-cool business woman, she is cautious until she feels she can trust you. She is highly respected by her colleagues for her intelligence and decisiveness, but is said to have a short fuse when things aren't going her way. However, she's reputed to be able to 'cope' with the infamous BT consultant Ed Carter, known for grinding down lesser mortals.

Although BT is coy about budgets and marketing spends, the business unit, which covers everything from home offices to multinational corporations, is thought to make up over half of its [pounds]3.64bn revenue.

In marketing terms, however, the business side of the company has generally been viewed as something of the poor relation to the might of residential marketing.

Flaherty wants to change that. She is one of the new wave of marketers BT has brought in from abroad; evidence of its commitment to building a global telecoms brand. Flaherty is a US import, here because of her awesome knowledge of marketing telecoms in a competitive environment. Leslie Butterfield, chairman of BDDH, says Flaherty's competitive edge is key: "She thinks in a competitive way and that gives her a lot of clarity about competitive strategies."

Her pedigree includes almost 13 years with MCI, which led to her being made senior vice-president of worldwide sales and marketing for Concert.

She says there has been little opposition to the North American invasion (BT's consumer marketing director, Mike Wagner, is Canadian and Ed Carter is American). "People comment on it but management of BT has made a very considered decision to bring in people with competitive experience. My most pleasant surprise is the reception I've had. I didn't think it was going to be that easy. I've worked in organisations as the new guy and it's not been pleasant," says Flaherty. …

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