BT’s chief architect Neil McRae heads for the exit door

Neil McRae (centre) in action at the charity pinball tournament held at the DSP Leaders World Forum 2022

Neil McRae (centre) in action at the charity pinball tournament held at the DSP Leaders World Forum 2022

  • Neil McRae is the outspoken chief architect at UK national telco BT
  • The telco has confirmed he is leaving at the end of the year
  • There’s no indication of where the pinball-loving exec might be headed next
  • McRae’s departure is just one of a number of changes within BT’s Network division

Neil McRae, the outspoken chief architect and managing director for architecture and technology strategy at BT, is heading for the exit door at the UK national telco, the operator has confirmed to TelecomTV, adding that the Scot’s departure is just one of a number of changes to be announced within the telco’s networks team.

The confirmation came after TelecomTV was contacted by a source at the carrier (who requested anonymity) who said members of McRae’s team were told the news on Thursday morning. A BT spokesman added that a broader communication to the BT Group about McRae’s departure and other changes would be issued at some point today. 

According to the source, McRae didn’t suggest to his team that he has another job lined up. However, it appears he’ll be playing an active role at BT until the end of December, which suggests he is not about to join a BT competitor. 

McRae could not be immediately reached for a comment. 

There’s no current indication about what the other changes in BT’s networks team might be and whether those changes will include the appointment of a direct replacement for McRae. 

Questions about the circumstances leading to McRae’s departure were not immediately addressed by BT’s media relations team, but might become apparent once the broader changes at the telco’s networks unit have been shared.

McRae, a regular contributor to TelecomTV’s live and digital events, is one of a number of senior technology executives who report to the operator’s CTO Howard Watson, who heads up the telco’s Networks internal service unit. The other senior executives in the Networks team include: Greg McCall, managing director of service platforms; Andy Skingley, managing director of dynamic infrastructure; Les Anderson, director of cyber and information security; Jim Dempsey, managing director of service management; and Tim Whitley, managing director of applied research. 

The other internal service unit is Digital, created last year and headed up by chief digital and innovation officer Harmeen Mehta, who joined in April 2021. Tim Whitley is also a member of Mehta’s team. 

The shake-up at the Networks division comes about 18 months after the formation of the Digital division, a structural revamp that changed the shape of BT’s technology teams as Mehta’s arrival saw Watson’s title change from chief technology and information officer (CTIO) to CTO, with Mehta taking on responsibility for the telco’s IT platform.  

McRae, a massive pinball and space exploration fan (he was named after astronaut Neil Armstrong), joined BT in February 2011. He has been working in the communications networking sector since 1992 and has decades of hands-on network technology experience. He will be leaving very large shoes for the BT team to fill. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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