Business Secretary John Hutton yesterday presented an honorary knighthood to Ben Verwaayen, the Dutch born Chief Executive of BT Group, for his services to the UK’s telecoms industry and for leading the roll out of broadband across the UK.
Mr Verwaayen, who has led the BT Group since February 2002, was appointed an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, during a ceremony at Lancaster House, London.
Mr Hutton said: “Not only has Ben made an outstanding contribution to the telecommunications industry for more than thirty years, he has also worked tirelessly to the benefit of the wider UK economy, including over the past six years as Chief Executive of BT. As a result of his decision and own personal drive to refocus BT as a broadband company, 99.8% of households are now able to access broadband, with 14 million households in the UK having taken up broadband as of last year.”
Mr Verwaayen said: “I am honoured to receive the KBE. For me, this is mostly a recognition for the people in BT who have not just transformed a company into a true global force, but also enabled the creation in the UK of one of the most vibrant broadband markets.”
Ben Verwaayen graduated with a Master’s degree in law and international politics from the State University of Utrecht, Holland. From 1975 to 1988, he worked for ITT in Europe and then worked for KPN in the Netherlands for nine years as president and managing director of its subsidiary PTT Telecom.
Immediately prior to joining the BT Group, he had been working for Lucent Technologies Inc. as executive vice-president, international; executive vice-president and chief operation officer; and finally, vice chairman of the management board. He took over as Chief Executive of BT plc in February 2002, having been appointed to BT’s main board the previous month.