Former BT CEO Patterson joins Salesforce as EMEA chairman

Former BT CEO Patterson joins Salesforce as EMEA chairman

09 September 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Gavin Patterson, who was ousted as CEO of BT last year, is to be chairman of Salesforce’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Salesforce said he will provide strategic guidance to its rapidly growing business in EMEA, the company’s fastest-growing region globally.

“Gavin is a highly respected leader and innovator, and we’re thrilled to welcome him to Salesforce as our EMEA chairman,” said Salesforce co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Keith Block.

Patterson (pictured), who formally left BT at the end of January as former cable TV executive Philip Jansen took over, said: “Salesforce is a special company with an enviable track record and phenomenal future opportunities in EMEA. … I look forward to supporting this team of talented leaders as the business moves into its next phase of growth.”

He was asked to leave BT after pressure from large institutional shareholders persuaded the board to replace him. BT chair Jan Du Plessis memorably said in June 2018 that “the board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team”, and yet it decided that the CEO has to go. It took several months to identify Jansen as successor and several more for Jansen to move into BT Centre.

Patterson has not left BT behind completely. He and another former CEO, Ian Livingston, as well as other former directors are named in a class action complaint that has been filed by US law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.

The firm is complaining about the group’s actions around the scandal at BT Italia, which caused the group to write off £530 million. BT has denied the allegations on behalf of the group as well as the former directors and staff.