Carter moves again as No.10 calls

Stephen Carter, the CEO with the itchiest feet in London, has been hired by Gordon Brown to make the Downing Street machine run more smoothly.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Carter, who has been appointed Chief of Strategy, will act as the Prime Minister’s right-hand man, operating as the link between the PM and his bloated team of policy wonks (even the PM’s spokesman doesn’t know how many special advisers there are these days, it emerged this week). The idea is that Carter, described as a man of ‘huge talents and experience’, will help improve the speed and quality of decision-making.

It’s a weighty role for the former advertising exec, whose broad-ranging remit will enable him to attend Cabinet meetings and keep his fingers in all sorts of pies. But it’s another sign that Carter is very much a man in a hurry.

When MT spoke to him in April 2006, he was already on his third high-profile leadership role. He made his name at ad agency J Walter Thompson, where he rose to become a youthful CEO (he was 30 when he got the top job in 1994), but then jumped ship to NTL in 2001 and saw his career hit the buffers. After two years of painful restructuring and bankruptcy protection, he left with a rumoured £1.5m payout (which he denies) and a big blot on his CV, only to resurface a year later as head of the media regulator Ofcom.

Three years later he was off again, taking the CEO role at PR giant Brunswick, working for chairman Alan Parker – and this time he’s lasted barely more than a year. Since Parker is a big mate of Gordon Brown’s, he’s unlikely to have burned any bridges by leaving so soon – but he still must have one of the longest CVs in the City.

As MT found in 2006, Carter is a smooth talker, with a reputation for making decisions quickly and getting results. So he should be just the ticket for Gordon Brown – provided the PM manages to hang on to him for long enough to win an election…


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