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New BT leader in the North West pledges support to help region achieve maximum economic growth

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Helen Slinger

The new head of BT in the North West has pledged to use the company’s huge expertise and resources to boost the region’s economy.

Helen Slinger, the new chair of BT’s regional board in the North West, said the company would help the North West to “achieve maximum productivity and economic growth”.

She highlighted making the most of digital technologies as key to driving future success.

BT is one of the region’s largest private sector employers with more than 9,000 people and major centres in locations such as Warrington, Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton, Accrington and Stockport.

The 44-year-old daughter of a Lancashire farmer, who has lived in the North West for a large part of her life, will lead the board of ten senior BT executives and direct BT’s activities to ensure the company remains one of the region’s leading investors and employers. Among the company’s achievements in the North West is the creation of a high-speed fibre broadband network that is already available to more than three million homes and businesses, and is continuing to grow rapidly.

She said: “I’ve lived in Lancashire for most of my life so it’s an honour for me to represent BT across the North West. The prosperity of the local economy has always been really important to me. I love our vibrant cities as well as the region’s stunning countryside and rural businesses – which are close to my heart as the daughter of a farmer.

“The objective of the regional board is to put BT at the heart of the local communities it serves. Through the development of solid strategic relationships with local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, key stakeholders, business and community organisations, we improve BT’s understanding of the needs of local people and business, and outline plans to help BT better respond to them with the aim of fuelling the success and growth of local economies.

“We are one of the region’s largest private sector investors through our roll-out of exciting technologies, such as superfast broadband and 4G mobile communications – and we are determined to go further. The North West has vast potential and we want to support the region to achieve maximum productivity and economic growth.

“Technology is developing at an astonishing pace and it’s vital that no one gets left behind so we’re already rolling out the next generation of ultrafast services such as ‘full fibre’ and Gfast to ensure the region is on the front foot when it comes to broadband technology.”

Helen has worked for BT for eight years and is already the chief executive of BT’s Product Supply Business, which is part of the company’s business and public sector organisation. She has been a member of the North West board for three years and is a well known face in the region, having won the Institute of Directors’ North West Young Director of the Year award in 2016, as well as being a finalist in the National Women in Business Awards held in Manchester the same year.

Helen replaces Mike Blackburn, OBE, who has held the BT regional chair role for ten years. He said: “I’ve worked for BT for over 25 years and have decided that it is time for me

to move on to fresh challenges. I plan to remain actively engaged in the North West, continuing in my roles as chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and a board member of the Lancashire LEP, as well as The Lowry Theatre and other boards.

“Working at BT has given me the opportunity to work with some of the finest and most talented people from across all sectors of the region, and deliver some amazing programmes including the Paralympic World Cup, the Greater Manchester Academies Trust and fibre broadband roll out, amongst many others. I’m delighted that I am passing the role into Helen’s very capable hands.