Media Medium
18 October 2000


Blocked Bannister needs to pause for thought

When Greg Dyke's leadership Sun fell on Matthew Bannister's executive Mars,
one of them had to go. The answer was written in the stars.

There has been speculation that Matthew Bannister was a square peg in a round hole as Director of Marketing and Communications at the BBC. Even so, his decision to quit just six months after getting the job, with his new marketing strategy about to be launched, is a surprise.

Bannister is an ambivalent Piscean (March 16 1957) and with two fish swimming in opposite directions, Pisces often has a confused mix of motives. Yet with assertive Mars in persistent Taurus he has durability, shown by his twenty-two year stint at the Corporation, and he has a proven ability to take tough but imaginative decisions, demonstrated in his time at the helm of Radio One.

As an expected successor to Birt, he was in the running for Director-General before being trumped by Greg Dyke. Dyke's leadership Sun falls on Bannister's executive Mars, but in April the astrology shows that he accepted a job he didn't want, in a different field of expertise to his own. By doing so, he sowed the seeds of disappointment. This began to manifest in July as limiting Saturn moved slowly across Dyke's Sun and Bannister's Mars, marking the start of a period which must have left Bannister feeling blocked and unable to take effective initiatives, in a post which smacked of demotion. Under Saturn, one player's mantle of authority becomes the other's cloak of failure. It is a galling planetary line-up, equivalent to driving with the brakes on, and Bannister won't be clear of this symbolism until late Spring 2001.

Bannister says that it is "a good time to move my career in a different direction", and he is talking of an independent career in 'talent management'. However there are no obvious indications that he leaves on the crest of a new wave, and he would be wise to assimilate and reflect before he pushes the boat out. It can be a long process to purge a corporate mindset from the soul, and for some time to come, the talent that Bannister is called upon to manage is his own.

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