Profile: Matthew Anderson, group director of comms, BSkyB
Matthew Anderson bounds into Sky's HD display room at its headquarters in Isleworth, west London. 'Have you seen this?' he asks, shaking hands vigorously. 'This is neat, huh?'
Sky's San Francisco-born comms director is pointing at a large plasma screen, jabbing at a remote-control as pin-sharp images appear on the top-of-the-range TV. Anderson, 40, must have shown this new technology to thousands of people since joining Sky last summer, but does a passable impression of someone who has just seen it for the very first time.
Back in his office moments later, Anderson launches into his reasons for leaving PR agency Ogilvy last year, after nearly 15 years. ‘Some people reach a certain point and say: "I think I should move in-house",' he explains. ‘I certainly didn't think like that, but I had worked with James [Murdoch] before. What impressed me was Sky's enormous appetite for change.'
So far he has not been disappointed, and he laughs at the idea of a ‘typical week'. His responsibilities span corporate and internal comms for Sky's 13,000 staff, ‘making sure The Simpsons and 24 are on the cover of magazines', CSR and public affairs.
In his first 12 months at Sky, Anderson has worked on the launch of HDTV, the acquisition of broadband provider Easynet and the rolling out of Sky Broadband. Unsurprisingly, hevehemently agrees with Murdoch's claim that Sky is ‘the most exciting media company in the world'.
To say Anderson's rise has been impressive would be an understatement. In the mid-1990s he was MD of Ogilvy PR Worldwide in Brussels, introducing the concept of VAT to Poland and communicating land-restitution schemes in post-Communist Bulgaria.
By chance, Ogilvy & Mather's Asia head saw Anderson deliver a presentation to the O&M board in Chicago,
and asked the CEO's permission to approach him about a role in Asia. ‘Ten days later I was on a plane to Hong Kong,' he recalls.
Anderson was 31 when he was made Ogilvy PR Worldwide's Asia-Pacific president - six years later his remit was expanded to take in the crucial EMEA region.
Maybe it is his San Francisco upbringing, but Anderson has always taken customer service extremely seriously. These days he visits the company's Scottish call centres to hear what customers are saying, and has spent time in Sky installation vans to get an idea of the homes into which the products are going.
He is proud of the fact that Sky is the first major media firm to go ‘carbon neutral', and personally oversaw the switching of the company's taxi service to environmentally friendly firm Green Tomato. His point is reinforced later by the sight of Murdoch, one of the most powerful media men in the world, arriving at the office in the back of a Toyota Prius.
Paul Barber, now executive director at Tottenham Hotspur FC, describes Anderson, with whom he worked at Ogilvy, as a ‘high-energy professional and a great operator'.
Barber recalls: ‘Matthew had been caretaking the Ogilvy role that I was stepping into [European CEO], and on my first day in the job we sat down at 10am to debrief. At 3.40pm Matthew stopped talking. He'd barely paused once in nearly six hours. He'd used minimal notes, and the whole thing was stored neatly in his head.'
Anderson truly seems to have vast reserves of energy. A former junior tennis champion (he won the Nevada state championship at 16) he recently took up road cycling. After a recent conference, his Olympian pentathlete brother-in-law showed up with two bikes, and the men went for a brisk 50-mile ride before heading home.
Back to the present, and Anderson gives a quick sell of Sky's broadband package (‘from January you should get free UK landline calls, and you still get your Sky TV. Isn't that great? Come on! Sign up!' he cries, clapping his hands). And then he is off, a whirlwind of American bonhomie in a linen suit.
CV, Matthew Anderson
2005 BSkyB, group director of comms
2003 Ogilvy PR Worldwide, chief executive, Asia-Pacific and EMEA
1997 Ogilvy PR Worldwide, president, Asia-Pacific
1994 Ogilvy PR Worldwide, MD, Brussels
1994 Adams & Rinehart (now Ogilvy PR New York), associate
This article was first published on PR Week UK
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