Economist Melanie Dawes to head UK telecoms regulator Ofcom

Economist Melanie Dawes to head UK telecoms regulator Ofcom

12 February 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Ofcom, the UK regulator, has appointed career civil servant Melanie Dawes as its next chief executive, replacing Sharon White, who left late last year.

Like White, Dawes (pictured) is an economist, with an MSc from Birkbeck College in London. Now 53, she has worked in the civil service for 31 years. Another similarity with her predecessor is that Dawes spent a long period at the Treasury.

Dawes chairs the Civil Service People Board, leading workforce strategies across all UK government departments. She is also civil service champion for diversity and inclusion.

Terry Burns, Ofcom’s chairman, said: “I am delighted that the secretary of state [Nicky Morgan] has approved Ofcom’s appointment of Dame Melanie Dawes as the next chief executive of Ofcom. The Government’s statement that it is minded to appoint Ofcom as the regulator for online harms is a vote of confidence in Ofcom’s expertise. I know Melanie will do a fantastic job of leading the organisation and maintaining its strengths.”

But Burns also took the opportunity to announce that he will be leaving Ofcom by the end of the year as it expands its role to include online harm.

Morgan indicated she would like a chair “to be in place who is able to oversee the successful implementation of any changes in full”. Though, given the rumours of an imminent reshuffle of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, it may not be Morgan who oversees the new legislation to expand Ofcom’s role.

Morgan said this morning: “I congratulate Dame Melanie Dawes on her appointment as chief executive of Ofcom. Melanie’s experience leading organisations through change will be vital as the Government today announces it is minded to appoint the organisation as regulator for new online harms laws.”

White, Dawes’s predecessor, left Ofcom late in 2019 and this month assumed her first role in the private sector, as chair of the retail group John Lewis.