chief operating officer

Andrew Hill

If I were Charlotte Hogg, newly appointed as the Bank of England’s first chief operating officer, I would be a little worried.

It’s not that the UK’s central bank doesn’t need an extra pair of operational hands at the top. The possibility that future governors would be overloaded was one of my principal concerns about the BoE takeover of a large chunk of the now-defunct Financial Services Authority, so Mark Carney, governor-designate, has made the right move.

But chief operating officers are, as I’ve written before, eminently dispensable and their roles are usually difficult to define. 

Andrew Hill

I’m interested to see the name of Caroline Thomson re-emerge on the list of potential candidates to take over as BBC director-general from George Entwistle, who stepped down humiliatingly on Saturday.

Her farewell speech – predating the Savile and Newsnight scandals that laid Mr Entwistle low – now sounds prescient, with its reminder that the corporation “must never lose sight of its purpose”:

It is always when the BBC loses sight of what it is here for that it runs into trouble with licence fee payers. Confidence doesn’t mean arrogance. Indeed, if we are in a biblical frame of mind, humility is in order.

 

Andrew Hill

In my article on Thursday about chief operating officers, I gave four reasons why chief executives might appoint someone to this hard-to-define role – to succeed them, to support them, to liberate them, and to tackle a challenge for them. But it seems I left one out: to be a scapegoat.

G4S has underlined my point about how such posts are as easily abolished as they are created, by getting David Taylor-Smith, the group’s chief operating officer, to carry the can for the group’s failure to provide the 10,400 guards who were ordered up to support the London Olympics. (Ian Horseman Sewell, managing director of its global events division, has also resigned). To the embarrassment of the company, organisers and UK government, the security shortfall had to be covered at the last minute by the military (who, of course, did a brilliant job).