In-Depth

The Euro50 Q&A: Neil Berkett, CEO, Virgin Media

Virgin Media in 2011 turned in a profit for the first time and the company  continued to build on its strengths in 2012, with strong take-up of its TiVo advanced TV service. Much of its success has been down to Neil Berkett’s leadership.

Age 57

Education BCA from Victoria University, New Zealand.

Previous positions Before joining Virgin Media, I was managing director, distribution, at Lloyds TSB plc UK. Previous roles include: chief operating officer at Prudential Assurance Company Ltd UK; head of retail at St George Bank; senior general manager at the Australian division of Citibank Limited; chief executive at Eastwest Airlines Australia and financial controller at ICL Australia.

Life outside work Spending time with my family, walking the dogs and watching sport.

Most significant achievements of 2012 The first truly connected Olympics was a perfect showcase for the power of our fibre optic network. With so much ‘don’t miss’ TV, TiVo was the best way to watch London 2012 and streaming sporting content made the need for superfast broadband even more apparent – Virgin Media customers downloaded 48% over the summer. We launched next generation WiFi on London Underground, rolled out in just six weeks ahead of London 2012 and used 17 million times by people travelling right across the capital, and I’m very proud Virgin Media played its part in an unforgettable summer.

Most significant industry developments The launch of 4G promises to bring significant benefits to UK consumers as people stay connected and increasingly take control of their viewing inside and outside the home. Forthcoming superfast mobile connections will play an important part in meeting the growing demand for wireless capacity.

Key challenges for 2013 There’s a growing mainstream awareness of the need for better digital services and, alongside all the great benefits, the industry has a role to play in ensuring consumers are able to navigate through what can sometimes feel like a complex digital world. We’ve recently launched an initiative called ‘Our Digital Future’ to explore people’s views on issues including data privacy, protecting families online and online piracy to help shape our approach.

Goals for next year We’re finding new ways to put the power of our fibre optic network where people need it most and, alongside ground breaking work like WiFi on London Underground, Virgin Media Business is exploring new small cell technology capable of delivering mobile data speeds up to 90Mbps. The possibilities are huge and our network could play a key role in helping to meet the increasing demand for super-fast connectivity.

Most admired industry personality Martha Lane Fox is doing a great job: she’s been there, done it and is a great advocate for the benefits of digital technology.

Favourite TV show I’m seriously into anything with wildlife.