Jason Paris quits Spark for offshore job

They won't always have Paris: Spark's HMB chief executive will leave in early 2018
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Spark's chief executive of home, mobile and business, Jason Paris, is leaving in early 2018.

Mr Paris says he is off to "a leadership position with a large global business based offshore" but can't spill any further details at this point.

He joined Spark in 2011 from MediaWorks, where he was in charge of the broadcaster's television operations, and assumed his current role in mid-2015.

Previously, Mr Paris was head of digital media and marketing at TVNZ, and seen by many as the heir apparent to Rick Ellis.

After effectively serving as the No 2 at TVNZ, MediaWorks and Spark, he may now have his opportunity to finally sit in the big chair.

Spark managing director Simon Moutter says, “In the six years Jason has been with Spark, we’ve seen an extraordinary improvement in market performance, particularly in mobile. Jason was also a pivotal player in the successful rebrand from Telecom to Spark and has more recently been a driving force in building a better digital experience for our customers.

“We are obviously very sad to see Jason go but thank him for everything he’s done and wish him all the best with his next career move.”

Despite his slick corporate appearance, Mr Paris always had the capacity to surprise.

One of this reporter's favourite Paris moments was an event announcing the name change to Spark. Mr Paris stood up in front of the audience, and for several minutes did nothing but read angry customer messages to Telecom customer support, most containing language that cannot be repeated in this publication.

One issue for Spark: With the high-profile Chris Quin (now Foodstuffs chief executive) and Mr Paris out of the picture, there is no obvious inhouse successor to Mr Moutter, should he exit at any point.


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35 Comments & Questions

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It's a credit to Spark that they have people working in the business who are capable leading other big companies. First, Chris Quin gone to head Foodstuffs, now the well regarded Jason Paris to a role unknown. Good luck to him, and no doubt Spark will continue to find great up and coming leaders for its divisions.

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A tremendous loss for NZ.

Jason drove significant transformation within the organisation to shift the focus to its people and customers for the betterment of New Zealanders and SMEs, with impressive results.

A career privilege to work with such a visionary and humanistic leader.

Wishing him and his family all the best for an amazing OE!

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Spare us your sycophantic nonsense, Madam Flatterer. In light of Spark/Telecom's recent history your comments are quite offensive and discourteous to the people who have kept you in business. Your company spent how many millions to change its name because it had alienated so many of its customers and play no small part in helping make NZ become one of the world's priciest countries?

Life's good when you're, I imagine, one of the 50+% of employees of this rip off merchant trousering a 6-figure salary. You and your colleagues are not saving lives in hospitals or fixing roads or doing many of the vital yet often poorly paid jobs that keep NZ running. Please save your appreciation for your grossly overcharged customers who pay your handsome salary and those of your multi-millionaire colleagues like Messrs Moutter and Paris.

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When I was young and single, most of the really good looking men I met always seemed to be married. These days, it now seems most of them are heading overseas......

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While I have no problem with this light-hearted comment, I very much doubt NBR would let it through the filter if it were a man commenting on a woman's looks...

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....particularly if they were *Labor/Green* supporters.

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How do you know it's not a man (with a moniker like that)??

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There are number of outstanding leaders within the Spark leadership team both Female and Male. Why do you think there is no obvious successor?

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Quin (XT outage) and Paris (rebranding, broader transformation) have played instrumental roles in major events for the company. I don't see anyone else who has made their bones in similar fashion.

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I would have thought that Dr Claire Barber who has successfully transformed Sparks whole IT infrastructure and thus the whole business operating model could be seen as transformative and instrumental to the successes of Spark. Or perhaps Ms Jolie Hodson who after being successful as CFO of Lion and then Spark CFO through the same transformational period as Mr Paris before transforming herself to the CEO of Sparks corporate, enterprise and government sales and solutions teams could also be seen as transformative and instrumental to the successes of Spark. Not to mention the extra-curricular both have in driving technology adoption, equality and diversity to multiple areas of the NZ community. And there are some boys who aren’t half bad either. Spark certainly does not lack good leaders right now.

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Great technical and financial achievements. But being an ace technocrat does not necessarily make you a good leader like Quin, Moutter, Paris or (on the board side of things), the recently-arrived Justine Smyth.

 

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@ChrisKeall - I would be interested to get your perspective on what makes a "good" leader.  As your comment "being an ace technocrat doesn't necessarily make you a good leader" leaves me bewildered as Dr. Barber and Jolie Hodson have showcased skills that go beyond that of being an ace technocrat... I'm picking you know them personally to have made comments of that nature so I'm looking forward to your thoughts on how they fall short of being a "good" leader.

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Hi Yoda, no I don't know them personally. As per my previous comments, I was noting that Quin (XT outage) and Paris (rebranding) have had public leadership roles. The others haven't. Maybe they do have the chops, but they have yet to prove them in the public eye. I think a good leader is someone who has a clear vision of where a company should go, and the ability to persuade staff, customer and investors of the merits of that direction. CK

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Why does a good leader need to be seen as such to the public? A good leader is surely one who leads a team of empowered people, all moving in the same direction. Certainly Jolie and Claire demonstrate that given these comments from what appears to be Spark staff who are supportive of them; i.e.
their “followers”.

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In addition! Maybe these women do not have good “public leadership” personas because the press are irresponsible with their reporting of women and their great achievements? #womenaregreatleaderstoo

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Thanks for mansplaining that to us Chris.
#womenaregreatlesderstoo

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Agree women can be great leaders too. As I wrote, Justine Smyth was a great pick to head Spark's board. 

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Women are great leaders. Not can. Not too. Both Dr Claire Barber and Ms Jollie Hodson are great leaders, against all odds and when the path has been tilted. Jack Ma and the modern agile movement both believe it is impossible to deliver great customer experience without great staff. And Spatk staff are backing our leaders. What else could you hope for?

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Sounds like either could take over from Paris as Spark's no. 2, then.

Will be interesting to see if they put their hats in the ring -- and if they do, how they fare with the board,

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Just to be clear, Jason isn’t “Spark’s Number 2”. There are a number of C-level execs reporting to Simon, and Jason is not senior to any of his peers in that team.

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Also, this is mansplaining: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXB5AO1RToU

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Tragic comment.

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I detect PR agency smells here.

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I detect inspired staff proud of their amazing female leaders...#womenaregreatleaderstoo

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I'd say to other readers to please ask current or ex staff offline for opinions on various executives. You might find different views there. #LeadersAreLeadersNothingToDoWithGenderFocusOnSomethingMoreRelevant

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For the record, none of these comments are from Spark's PR team (although we're obviously watching the conversation with interest!)

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Well done to Jason, Simon and the Spark Board for nurturing internal candidates for top jobs.

The old Telecom had a disaster with the Scotsman and so has learnt its lesson.

More NZX companies should be focusing on developing internal and local talent rather then parachuting in over paid offshore execs who then fill up their reports with cronies from their last job.

These gypsies travel the world bullshitting Boards with their speak then take the money and run after stuffing up having no understanding of Kiwi corporates and their culture.

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More importantly, who's going to coach my boy's rugby team?!?! JP, pretty good executive no doubt, but utterly irreplaceable under-sevens rugby coach.

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There is always a successful team behind any leader.
We have a long list, Dr Claire, Jolie Hodson to name a few, driving real diversity, inclusion & transformation within their teams without the public accolades.
Sad to see an article thats been rushed through.

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I just noted that two who had *publicly* displayed leadership skills have left. 

Good others in the Spark team who have made achievements in finance or IT transformation but that does not necessarily translate to great leadership skills.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Chris,
Both Chris and Jason aspired to be CEO with their own visions, they were not given the opportunity early on.
Chris would have been a good fit and far engaging.

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NBR covered the Moutter vs Quin race to succeed Paul Reynolds as Telecom CEO at the time. Both had different strengths. 

Quin was acting CEO while the recruitment process was underway. His decision to move his desk into a public area of the company's Auckland HQ, near its entrance, said a lot about his engaging and open style.

At the time, I thought of Moutter as more of a COO, but he's actually been pretty creative and innovative.

Anyhow, enough of the Spark management audit.

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Congrats JP - a great leader, grounded, fun and inspiring to work with. NZs loss. All the best to you and the family.

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I think your discussion of the merits of the general managers ignores their reputation amongst current and former staff.
I suspect that there is no comment in this forum that reflects the views of people who have personal experience of some of these people you seem to respect so highly...

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Agree and couldn't have said it better.

Also worth noting that from outside perspectives it's easy to attribute successes of a firm to a few executives simply because you can name them. Yes agree that the executives influence the strategy to a large degree - but you have no idea as to "how" they got thousands of unnamed staff to execute said strategy - some were perfectly good at it, some drove staff to the ground and ruined careers/personal lives. Dig a little deeper and you might find us non-executive staff will have a lot to say about different styles among executives.

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