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Telecoms Brand Guardian Spotlight: Allison Kirkby

David Haigh
23 February 2021

Chief Executives today need to do more than simply grow a business and make money for their investors.

Good CEOs are those who nurture relations with all stakeholders, and enhance the reputation of their brands as a result. Even investors increasingly care about corporate social responsibility about environmental, social and governance issues.

The role of the CEO has evolved as we navigate the era of personality CEOs where public scrutiny can be equal to that of a celebrity figure. It is no longer enough to have a vision for the business’s future. It is about forging an authentic public profile and reacting earnestly to reputational crises.

Every year, we release the ranking of the world’s top brand guardians – the Brand Guardianship Index – which includes the top 100 CEOs globally. We have researched and evaluated the brand guardianship score of over 200 CEOs this year.

For the 2021 Brand Guardianship Index, Brand Finance commissioned a survey among a panel of 288 market analysts and journalists- two stakeholder groups who have informed and influential views on chief executives’ reputation. Fieldwork was conducted in December 2020.

Allison Kirkby, CEO, Telia

Allisson Kirkby, CEO, Telia
Allisson Kirkby, CEO, Telia

The only female telecoms CEO featured in the ranking is Telia’s Allison Kirkby. Another newbie to the position, but by no means a rookie, Kirkby took the helm in October 2019. Previous roles include President & Group CEO of TDC Group and President & Group CEO of Tele2.

Kirkby’s visionary approach and focus on growth is clearly reflected in her third-place rank for having a strong strategy and long-term vision, with 56% of experts feeling she has a strong strategy, considerably higher than the 27% telecoms average. Kirkby is striving towards the overall vision of making Telia the leading operator in the Nordics and Baltics. As Telia puts it “connectivity has become part of the very fibre of life” and therefore the brand seeks to become resilient in a both fast paced and disruptive environment.

Allison Kirby's Brand Guardian Index Scores (Brand Finance Research of 288 Equity analysts and journalists, December, 2020)

The combination of her powerful leadership, her engaging and inspiring manner, her visionary approach and her strong focus on growth are key reasons that she achieved a 91% approval rating among the specialist audiences polled. These high scores are reflected in Kirkby’s high employee approval ratings where she sits in the top four among the ten telecom CEOs featured.

In 2020, under Kirkby’s leadership, Telia was named Sweden’s strongest brand. The brand performed strongly across key metrics in Brand Finance’s Global Brand Equity Monitor study including price, products, consideration, familiarity, environment, governance, and reputation. With a continued focus on its CSR initiatives, the telecoms brand prides itself on its sustainable and responsible business practices, which it cites as the prerequisite for both sustainable growth and profitability.

“Allison’s strong vision will be to Telia’s benefit as the Telecom industry goes through a transformational period. It will require a Brand Guardian with a clear sense of direction to navigate the challenges of Commoditisation and the 4th industrial revolution.”

David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance

About the Author

David Haigh
Founder and CEO
Brand Finance

David is the CEO and founder of Brand Finance plc. David qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse in London. He worked in international financial management then moved into the marketing services sector, firstly as the Financial Director of The Creative Business and then as Financial Director of WCRS & Partners. He left to set up a financial marketing consultancy, which was later acquired by Publicis, the pan European marketing services group, where he worked as a director for five years.

David moved to Interbrand as Director of Brand Valuation in its London-based global brand valuation practice, leaving in 1996 to launch Brand Finance. David has represented the British Standards institute on the International Standards Committee working party on the standardisation of brand valuation methods and practices, whose draft standard (ISO 10668) was published in November 2010.

David has written many articles for the marketing and financial press on branded businesses and brand valuation and is the author of numerous publications. He also lectures on the subject of branded business, brand and intangible asset valuation at many of the leading business schools around the world.

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