AUCKLAND — Andrew Pirie is to step down from his role as corporate affairs lead at Spark, seven years after joining the New Zealand telco.

Pirie's decision follows the exit of Spark CEO Simon Moutter, who has been replaced by Jolie Hodson. The company will begin an external search to identify Pirie's successor.

One of the region's top corporate communications execs, Pirie joined Spark in 2012 when it was still known as Telecom New Zealand. He had previously spent a decade with Weber Shandwick in Singapore, including six years as Asia-Pacific president.

Pirie's corporate affairs leadership tenure at Spark spanned a significant turnaround of the company, including its rebranding and transformation into an agile digital services company. He oversaw Spark's corporate relations centre of excellence, responsible for internal and external communications, government, industry and community relations as well as the charitable activities of the Spark Foundation. 

"I was initially attracted to the role by Simon’s desire to embark on a bold, far-reaching agenda of change – that would turn around the business (then known as Telecom New Zealand) from a traditional telco with declining revenues, profitability and a poor reputation into a forward-looking, ambitious digital services company," said Pirie. "The last seven years has been an absolute blast, as I have played my part in what is widely considered one of the most exceptional transformations in NZ corporate history."

"Jolie is a fantastic leader who will do great things at Spark, and frankly she was a reason why I considered staying on with the company," said Pirie. "But Jolie deserves to have a reputational partner who is going to be alongside her for the next few years, and making such a commitment didn't fit easily with my current life goals."

While Pirie said that he has not ruled out another another senior in-house role in New Zealand or overseas, "it would probably have to be an organisation that was taking on a major, challenging change agenda. I’m more likely to be looking at a mix of governance directorships and advisory work."