Sarah Walker, who has held several senior sales related roles at BT, has been appointed as the new director of its Enterprise business in the North of England.
The Wirral-based executive started her career at BT selling analogue mobile to small and medium sized businesses and has worked in a variety of roles during her 22 years with the firm. She will lead its Enterprise unit’s relationships with business and public sector customers across the North of England.
Sarah has started her new role during a particularly challenging time for the region, and the entire UK, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We know how tough it has been for our customers, including some who have had to temporarily cease trading and others who are adapting to finding new ways of working,” said Sarah.
“The shutdown of normal activity is having a huge impact on businesses, particularly in the hospitality, leisure, entertainment, travel and education industries. As a critical enabler, we are doing all we can to support our partners in both the public and private sectors. We are helping a number of NHS bodies through our Smart Messaging platform to relay COVID-19 related patient communications and appointment reminders, as well as being a key partner for Nightingale hospitals in Manchester and Harrogate, and the invaluable LifeLines – a project providing a secure virtual visiting solution for families whose loved ones are in intensive care units.
“We’re also supporting businesses from sole traders and SMEs, all the way through to large corporates by giving them access to the best technology, flexible options and training to help them navigate through this crisis.”
Sarah’s most recent role was leading BT’s large corporate business within its Enterprise unit, where she was responsible for managing projects including BT’s strategy to improve passenger connectivity across the UK Rail Network.
BT has invested significantly in the North of England region with the recent announcement of new future workplaces for staff in Manchester and Doncaster; and 5G mobile services launching in a number of cities including Newcastle, Sunderland, Wakefield and Liverpool. BT also recently launched a £20.3 million partnership with Leeds City Council which will make Leeds the largest gigabit and ‘5G capable’ city outside of London.
Sarah said the focus now was to help businesses survive the economic impact of the coronavirus situation, but in the longer term she wanted BT to play a key role in the region’s future prosperity.
She said: “BT’s values align with the strategic plan for the North of England; with a focus on skills, technology and transport within the region, we have a great opportunity to support the social and economic growth objectives, bringing our public and private sectors closer than ever using the power of technology to enrich the industries and communities that we serve.”
Sarah added that new research from BT Skills for Tomorrow and Small Business Britain has found that small enterprises across the North of England are moving more of their services online for survival as the sector looks to take its first steps towards recovery.
The research – which polled over 1,000 firms in Small Business Britain’s UK community - found many across the sector are actively embracing digital tools to power recovery. Out of the small businesses surveyed, two fifths (42 per cent) have moved online due to the pandemic; over a third (37 per cent) are planning for less face to face contact in the future; and a similar number (39 per cent) now view digital skills and tools as a key focus area.
Sarah said: “The right online presence could make a huge difference to a small business, such as helping them to reach a global audience or a new customer base. It’s important that we continue to support small businesses to develop and enhance their digital skills, so they are in the best position for recovery.
BT is also supporting the growth of its mid-market and larger corporate customers in the region by helping them to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies such as full fibre, 5G, cloud services and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. These technologies are fueling customers’ digital transformation and will help to boost the performance of their business by making them faster, smarter and more agile.
Welcoming Sarah’s appointment, Dean Terry, MD corporate and public sector of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “I look forward to working with Sarah in her new role. Her experience of working in senior sales positions within BT and her understanding of the business needs of our corporate and public sector partners in the North of England will be a huge asset in her new role.”