The Ofcom Board has revealed that Sharon White is stepping down from her role as Chief Executive of the media regulator.
White joined Ofcom in March 2015 from HM Treasury. She is leaving to become Chairman of retail group The John Lewis Partnership, and is expected to leave Ofcom around the turn of the year.
Lord Burns, Ofcom Chairman, said: “Sharon has been an outstanding Chief Executive for Ofcom and will be missed by the whole organisation. Under Sharon’s leadership, Ofcom has helped to deliver ultrafast broadband, widespread 4G mobile and now 5G, and became the first independent regulator of the BBC. She leaves Ofcom as a regulator with a relentless focus on the consumer interest; making sure people and businesses can get the best out of their communications services.”
White commented: “It’s been a huge privilege to lead Ofcom at a time when reliable, affordable communications have become essential. I will leave behind an organisation that is dedicated in its mission to make communications work for everyone.”
The Ofcom Board has said it will begin the process to appoint a successor immediately.
White, who will become the Partnership’s sixth Chairman, will take up the role when Sir Charlie Mayfield steps down in early 2020. At HM Treasury, she was responsible for overseeing the public finances and before that she held Board level positions at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development. She has also worked as an adviser at the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit and in Washington DC as a senior economist at the World Bank. A trained economist, she studied at Cambridge University and University College London.
Mayfield said: “Sharon White has had a stellar career in a number of senior strategic and executive roles and during a thorough, wide-ranging and extremely competitive search she stood out, both for me and for the Nominations Committee, as an exceptional candidate. I believe she has the vision, leadership, drive and flair to steer the Partnership through its next phase.
“I readily recognise that Sharon is not the conventional retail choice. But these are not conventional retail times, nor is the Partnership a conventional company. Sharon is an inspirational leader with the personal and professional skills to ensure the Partnership continues to innovate and change while at the same time retaining and strengthening our distinctive character and democratic vitality.
“I look forward to welcoming Sharon to the Partnership around the turn of the year and to working with her during a thorough handover. I will step down at a time to be confirmed but likely to be in early 2020, depending on Sharon’s start and a handover period.”
White said that in her Ofcom role, her vision had been to ensure that consumers in fast-moving markets get high quality, reliable services at fair prices, from thriving businesses they can trust.
White’s basic pay will be £990,000 (€1.112m). Her base salary at Ofcom, as per the regulator’s November 2018 Senior Salary Disclosure was £341,700.