BT hires Airtel CIO to lead new digital division

BT hires Airtel CIO to lead new digital division

12 January 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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BT has appointed Bharti Airtel’s group CIO, Harmeen Mehta, to lead a new digital division as chief digital and innovation officer.

Mehta (pictured) will start her new role on 1 March, CEO Philip Jansen announced, and she’ll be a member of BT’s executive committee.

Jansen said: “This is more than a leadership announcement, it’s an important statement of intent. … The creation of BT Digital will enable us to focus on the areas where we can have the greatest impact, delivering digital platforms that bring together best-in-class services for our customers, and fully embracing new technologies such as AI and machine learning.”

Mehta has been at Bharti Airtel since October 2013 after a career largely spent in banking — at companies such as HSBC, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and finally BBVA, where she was CIO of global markets. At Airtel Mehta also led its cloud and security businesses.

Born in Chandigarh, she studied artificial intelligence and neural networks at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mehta then worked for Qantas and British Airways before moving to the banking sector.

She posted on LinkedIn, in response to congratulations from the industry: “Thank you everyone for your wishes. I am moving from one amazing organisation to another so consider myself to be privileged.”

BT said that Mike Sherman, its chief strategy and transformation officer since May 2018, will be leaving the company.

Mehta’s new division unit will focus on the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms and services in key areas such as healthcare and data, said BT. She will work with Jansen and Howard Watson, who is promoted from CTIO to CTO, “to drive the company’s digital transformation”, said the company.

The new digital unit will include accountability for IT, digital innovation, BT-wide business transformation and data and product strategy.

As CTO, Watson will lead BT’s work on converged networks and service platforms, heading the team accountable for network strategy, networks transformation and service platforms, as well as retaining accountability for cyber and information security.

At the same time BT has announced a non-executive technology advisory board of industry experts to provide insight, provocation and external perspective to the executive committee on emerging technologies, market and societal trends.

Members include Daniela Rus of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Wendy Hall, executive director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton, John Stecher, CTO at Blackstone, and others.

Bharti Airtel has named its new CIO as Pradipt Kapoor.