Russell Stanners will step down as Vodafone CEO at the end of October. He will be replaced by Jason Paris who, until late last year, headed Spark New Zealand’s home and mobile business unit.

Stanners has been with Vodafone for 17 years and ran the business for the last 14 years. He joined the company as the enterprise director in 2002. 

During Stanners’ time with Vodafone, the global business moved from being a consumer mobile phone specialist to selling a broader range of digital technology services to consumers and business customers. The local operation followed the same basic game plan. 

In New Zealand the move was accelerated in 2012 when Vodafone acquired TelstraClear. Stanners was also in charge when Vodafone acquired internet service provider ihug in 2006. Other acquisitions during Stanners term include WorldxChange and Farmside. The latter was part of a strategy to woo rural customers after Vodafone won goverment subsidised rural broadband initiative contracts. 

Last year Spark failed to complete a merger with Sky TV. The deal was turned down by the Commerce Commission. 

While Vodafone has long been the largest mobile operator in New Zealand with around 2.3 million connections, it has lost market share in recent years to 2degrees and Spark. The company has gone from being one of the best performing Vodafone subsidiaries to something of an also-ran. Late last year Stanners was involved in attempts to float the business, but this has been put on hold. 

A media statement from Vodafone regional CEO for AMAP Vivek Badrinath said: “I would like to sincerely thank Russell for his significant contributions to our business during his impressive career at Vodafone".

Stanners says it will be business as usual at Vodafone until he leaves in October. “It’s been an incredible journey and the time has come for me to step down from my role as Vodafone NZ CEO. I’m committed to leading our great team until October and beyond that, I wish the company all the best as it enters a new era,” he said.

Paris will take over the reins just days after his Spark non-compete period expires. He left Spark to take a regional role at Vodafone after six years with New Zealand’s largest telco. He was responsible for the company’s rebranding in 2014.