‘JP’ exit leaves an Orange void


The exit of Orange vice president of sales and loyalty Jean-Pascal (JP) Van Overbeke earlier this month leaves Orange UK chief Tom Alexander with a headache as his ambitious pursuit of service and scale accolades continues.

Van Overbeke (pictured) was an essential figure in Alexander’s UK regime, which last year set a plan to secure the number one spot  for customer service by 2010 and for customer numbers by 2012.

Alexander created the ‘sales and loyalty’ role for Van Overbeke, specifically; he was his man in the channels to drive home Orange’s over-arching sales strategies.

The restructure that attended Alexander’s ‘Agenda’, his publicly-stated blueprint for success, saw all Orange’s disparate sales channels merged.

So its old divisions, demarcated by service type (mobile, broadband, fixed line), were united under Van Overbeke’s stewardship, with Mike Newnham and Paul Tollett handed charge of customer experience and cross-sales across its consumer and business teams, respectively.

Tollett left in May, and his position is still to be filled. Orange also has a vacancy for vice president of legal and regulatory. Van Overbeke’s departure this month will see Alexander step up pursuit of relevant candidates.

Van Overbeke’s role covered all Orange’s sales channels, direct and indirect. Retail sales director Sian Doyle, web sales director Keith Reville and indirect sales director Duncan Hay reported to him.

Alexander’s drive for customer volume and profitability was put at his door. The fact Orange has added customers (15,000 in the second quarter, and 94,000 in the first), when most other network operators have shed them, suggests Van Overbeke and his teams were succeeding.

But it was Van Overbeke’s closeness with Andrew Harrison and his team at Carphone Warehouse and with Tim Whiting and his team at Phones 4U, in particular, that brought special value.

“The transition to the sales role was a considerable move. He no longer just sat in consumer – the sales unit brought together business sales and channels such as Phones 4U and Carphone, which are two huge relationships, and that was a significant responsibility of Jean-Pascal’s,” says a network source.

“He kind of single-handedly went in to make the most of relationships with these partners and his partnership approach worked really well as he spent a lot of time working with the respective CEOs. Orange takes in a lot of volume in connections from those businesses as a result.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 446 (August 24, 2009).

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