Reseller News

​Spark - Transforming from telco to digital

Reseller News chats to outgoing Spark Digital CEO, Tim Miles, about the telco’s turnaround in New Zealand.
Tim Miles

Tim Miles

Over the past four years, Spark has witnessed seismic changes in its core business, illustrated through rejuvenation at all levels and a move away from the traditional Telecom brand.

In helping steer the ship, Tim Miles has been in the thick of the action, leading Spark Digital through a period of ongoing market repositioning.

Since joining the company as CEO of then Gen-i in February 2013, the industry veteran has fundamentally reshaped the go-to-market approach of the ICT solutions provider, transitioning from merely a telco player to a digital pace-setter.

“As a business we have moved our capability from that of a traditional telco to an organisation that has ability to help lead our customers into the digital future,” Spark Digital CEO, Tim Miles.

“We know this - not only because they’ve told us, but also with the nature of the business that we’ve earned.”

According to Spark New Zealand managing director, Simon Moutter, Miles’ enduring legacy can be felt every day in Spark Digital’s “customer-inspired culture” and through its market leadership in Platform IT (cloud) services - previously an untapped area of the market pre-2013.

“Spark has been through a tremendous change and it’s certainly not just down to me,” said Miles, speaking exclusively to Reseller News.

“We’ve gone through a massive transformation from a traditional telco to a true digital services provider and are really starting to become far more customer centric than ever before.

“What’s true today is that we have a different set of people capabilities than in the past - which has changed the internal mindset of how we operate.”

In approaching the finish line at Spark - having announced his decision to depart in April - Miles leaves behind a business the boasts an expanding customer base in New Zealand.

“A lot of New Zealand, including many government agencies, really depend on Spark to run their businesses, so firstly we have a requirement to be critically reliable and responsive,” Miles said.

“We also see our role as key to helping these customers on their own digital transformation. We are in a position to engage with our customers and help them flourish in fast-paced digital economy.”

Looking ahead to 2017, Miles said the company remains “pretty confident” that the right strategy is in place for ongoing market success.

“Since we started this journey as Spark two years ago, our strategy and direction has only needed few small tweaks,” he explained.

“What we can look forward to is much more focus on digital transformation, our business objectives and helping our customers make the changes they need to succeed.”


In moving onto the next phase of his career, Miles plans to pursue opportunities in corporate governance, officially parting ways at the end of 2016.

Yet Miles will remain connected to Spark by continuing as non-executive chairman of both CCL and Revera, after acquiring the businesses for $50 million in December 2015 and $96.5 million in April 2013 respectively.

Tim Miles
Tim Miles

“We are very happy with the acquisition of CCL and its integration into Spark,” Miles added.

“What we learned through Revera is that leaving these companies to foster their own culture and business plans has allowed them to continue to succeed, with the added bonus of being able to collaborate across Spark where it’s appropriate.”

According to Miles, CCL has a “very strong culture and a powerful brand” and are conducting “good business in their own right”.

“What we do is support them in their own endeavours and also involve them in a number of significant business opportunities for Spark providing some of the capability we didn’t have before,” he added.

Despite his departure, Miles said Spark remains “open to further acquisitions” in the New Zealand market, on the basis that any deal “adds value” from a customer standpoint.

As reported by Reseller News in April, Miles announced plans to leave his role alongside a number of changes to the Spark leadership team.

“The main reason that I’m stepping down is because I turn 60 next year and I’ve decided it’s time to have a change of lifestyle,” Miles said.

“I’m not looking to retire, I’m going to stay involved in business through ongoing directorships at Revera and CCL, and hopefully a few other governance roles.”

Miles started his career in technology in New Zealand with IBM, where he was responsible for public sector customers, and later joined Data General Corporation, rising to director of marketing across Asia Pacific.

Seven years working in various senior executive roles at Unisys soon following, before the tech veteran joined Vodafone in 2001.

Miles was CEO of Vodafone New Zealand for almost four years, then moved to the UK for assignments as CEO of Vodafone UK and Group CTO of Vodafone plc.

Following his stint in the UK, Miles returned to New Zealand in late 2006 and was managing director of listed agricultural services group PGG Wrightson until October 2010.

Miles has since been involved in a number of industry and not-for-profit organisations.

“I will absolutely stay in technology,” Miles added. “With the exception of a few years, I’ve spent nearly all of my career in the ICT business.

“What I love most is its fast-moving pace, and the adoption of change. As someone who really cares about New Zealand - technology matters and can make such a difference to help our country perform in a global economy.

“Technology brings us closer to the rest of the world, and by supporting it I hope that my kids and their kids will have better opportunities here without having to go overseas.”