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A man with connections


to a ‘ruling body’, you are also technically answerable to the public that the government represents. Plus you are embarking on a five-year strategy that is quite grand in its scope, and it’s undeniable that to a certain degree your future depends on its success. Personally I would be a nervous wreck


P


– but not so Graeme Millar, the CEO of Jersey Telecom Group, who is in that exact situation and seems to thrive on the pressure of it. He was positively chipper when he took the time to speak to businesslife.co about his life, his job and the future for the company he proudly heads up.


You’ve been in your role for over 18 months now – what would you say the major highlights have been? The company has achieved a heck of a lot in the last 18 months, and I think it’s important to say they are the achievements of the whole company, the whole team. We achieved the highest ever turnover in the company’s history in 2010 and we’re proud of that. We also had a strong profit performance last year. Last December we launched true fibre 1Gb services in Jersey, and a couple of months ago we did the same thing in Guernsey, which is a very big deal for us.


ICTURE THIS – you are the head of a company that is owned by the government, so not only are you answerable


We’ve also just opened the Rue Des Prés hosting facility, so we are the biggest provider of data hosting in the Channel Islands. One of the things we are really trying to do is play a part in helping Jersey as a whole punch above its weight in the global arena.


What about the biggest challenges? A large rationalisation of the company had already been announced before I arrived, so probably one of the biggest challenges has been for the company to reset its targets, re-establish its sense of direction and get its ‘mojo’ back. We lost 100 colleagues 18 months ago, and it’s been a challenge to try and move on from that because the whole company is very close-knit.


Given your background in publicly owned companies, how have you found working for a Government- owned entity? One of the things to understand about Jersey Telecom is that we are structured as if we were a corporate private company or a listed company. We adhere to the latest codes of conduct and the governance process as issued in the UK for listed companies. We have a strong board of directors with a number of eminent non-executives and the relationship with the Shareholder [the States of Jersey] is at ‘arm’s length’. There is also a Memorandum of Understanding – a document in which the Shareholder’s


wishes are clearly stated – so I have a very clear mandate, which you don’t necessarily get from a listed company. So, in reality, there is more clarity than I’ve had before.


Do you think people have a misguided view of what working for a Government-owned company is like? Some people may have the idea that a States-owned company is cold and sterile, but it’s not like that at all. This is the first time I’ve worked for a business where the shareholder is a government and I came here not knowing what to expect, but what I’ve found is a company that is very friendly, and where there is a great sense of community. We’ve introduced the Jersey Telecom


Alumni Club because we worked out that about one in every 100 islanders had a direct family connection with the company – either they themselves or a family member have worked for Jersey Telecom at some point in its history. And it’s different because if you


phoned up, say, BT from where you live in Bristol, you might speak to someone in a call centre in Aberdeen – you are never going to bump into them in the street, on the beach or in the supermarket. If you talk to one of our service agents there’s a possibility that might happen. I think that closeness to our customers is great. Of course, all of this could be because


Jersey is an island! August/September 2011 businesslife.co 29


As Chief Executive of the Jersey Telecom Group, Graeme Millar is the man in charge of overseeing the most ambitious growth plans in the company’s history. He talks to Nick Kirby about success, responsibility and driving ambition





PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHN DE GARIS


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