Digicel Jamaica has appointed 6 CEOs in 8 years

Irish–owned telecoms company, Digicel Jamaica has seen six CEOs come through its doors between 2012 and 2019.

They are namely: Mark Linehan, Andy Thorburn, Barry O’ Brien, David Butler, Justin Morin and now Allison Cole Philbert who took up the position earlier this month.

Allison Cole Philbert, the most recently appointed CEO of Digicel Jamaica

Only last month, the first Jamaican to hold the role since the company began operations in 2001, Justin Morin, demitted the CEO spot after less than two years.

Justin Morin, former CEO of Digicel Jamaica

One reason mooted for such a revolving door is the high level of expectation to deliver results. Another is the constantly changing nature of the mobile phone business and the impact upon it by the over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp.

The average tenure for a CEO is 7 years plus or minus two.

— Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

Digicel is now looking to transition from being solely a mobile phone operator to a company that also offers digital and data services while also entering the media business.

Ironically, Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, writing in the Harvard Review says the average tenure for a CEO is 7 years plus or minus two.

Across corporate Jamaica, the CEOs that stand out, that have shaped and grown their companies have been around for a while.

He is of the view that by that time maximum effectiveness generally tends to be extracted with the CEO going through 3 phases:

1. Entry (The “ honeymoon period” where the CEO can learn, experiment, innovate and take risks)

2. Consolidation (After establishing his or her leadership in terms of direction, style and strategy, good results are delivered and the CEO should feel secure in the role)

3. Decline (When the job becomes routine and there are no new markets and products. Also, when the CEO becomes ineffective and has no new ideas to grow the business).

“ When you look across corporate Jamaica, the CEOs that stand out, that have shaped and grown their companies have been around for a while; Patrick Hylton at NCB, Jeffery Hall at Jamaica Producers, Chris Williams at Proven, Don Wheby at Grace, Richard Byles at both Pan Jam and Sagicor Jamaica.

The average tenure of a Digicel Jamaica CEO, as it currently stands is 16 months.

“I guess it comes down to performance and my guess is this has been the underlying reason for the decision to regularly change CEOs by the Digicel Board. Mind you, it’s hard to have faith in a CEO in Jamaica if you feel that person possibly won’t be there in a year’s time,” said Makhulu.

The average tenure of a Digicel Jamaica CEO, as it currently stands, is 16 months.

Is Digicel changing its CEO for its Jamaican operations far too frequently?

Tell us what you think.