Virgin Media


Delivering business change on time

In March 2006, NTL and Telewest merged to create NTL:Telewest. In July, the company purchased Virgin Mobile UK, creating the first “quadruple-play” media company in the UK. In November, the company signed a deal with Sir Richard Branson to license the Virgin brand for the combined business. By February 2007, all of the company’s consumer services were rebranded under the Virgin Media name.

​I helped get the job done. On my first day, Brand Director Ashley Stockwell showed me the options for the new Virgin Media logo. His job was to transform the business from ntl:Telewest to Virgin Media, a bigger challenge than it sounded. Yes, it included tens of thousands of digital and physical name changes on everything from customer letters to vans to buildings. But it also meant changing attitudes, the culture, the spirit, and the potential of the business.

​Virgin Media was 3x larger than the next largest Virgin business, Virgin Atlantic. Employees across the business had been disheartened by the merger and leadership practices before it. Ashley removed derogatory signs, cancelled the dress code, travelled to see as many employees as he could, and brought new life and hope to the teams. But he needed help. There was an experienced team of technical PMs and BAs used to delivering new products and systems. But he needed someone who could help him deliver the business change.

​We drew up a simple, one-page description of the new business we wanted to build. I put together a cross functional team of stakeholders from each area of the business, and asked them to join me in identifying and delivering the changes that were needed to deliver Ashley’s vision. We chose a target date six months hence, and we delivered. In the run-up to V-Day, I held weekly and then daily readiness calls covering all aspects of the change, and could tell where the problems were by the level of participation. It was a great lesson, one I applied to great benefit in later roles.

​The new MD of Consumer Sales, Pete Taddeo, asked me to stay for six months to help build a combined crack sales function from teams across the Mobile, ADSL, and Cable businesses.

​Ten years later, one of the rebrand stakeholders rang me up out of the blue to ask for help. He was Bryn Jones, former Director of Mobile Delivery and then CTO at Three (H3G).

Brought in to provide overall structure and program design, Susan ended up as one of the three key executives in the entire project. Her critical thinking, tireless constructive probing of issues, and her creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems were all essential to the success that our rebranding ultimately enjoyed, and during the project itself, her calming presence helped us all get some sleep.

Ernie Cormier, former Virgin Media CCO, Founder and Principal at Acadian Partners LLC