Hertz honoured, 2degrees appoints interim leader

As the recovery mission for the submerged plane thought to be holding the bodies of Eric and Kathy Hertz kicks into gear, tributes are flowing for the 2degrees chief executive—and plans have been put in place by the company to continue his mobile mission. 

The 2degrees board met yesterday in Auckland to acknowledge the loss, review support for their families and 2degrees staff, and address issues of interim leadership.

Chairman Stewart Sherriff and board member Brad Horwitz, chief executive of majority shareholder Trilogy International Partners, arrived in Auckland yesterday and met with the company’s management team.

“Eric was a veteran in the wireless industry and brought that experience to bear in the New Zealand market,” says Horwitz. “He has built a great team and his passion for excellence and exceeding customer’s expectations have been instilled into the entire organisation. The board has complete confidence that the 2degrees team will continue to drive change and innovation into the New Zealand market.” 

Sherriff, who is senior vice president and chief technical officer at Trilogy International Partners, will assume the interim role of chief executive for 2degrees. 

“We have all taken comfort from the comments and heartfelt sympathies from around the world expressed about Eric and Kathy,” he says. 

Sherriff has more than 35 years of telecommunications industry experience and has been involved in 2degrees since Trilogy’s investment prior to the company’s launch. He held a similar position in Western Wireless International (WWI) beginning in 2001 after having served as vice president—operations from 1997 and also served as chief executive of Irish mobile third entrant Meteor from 2003-2005. Before joining WWI, Stewart was head of operations for SmarTone Mobile Communications (Hong Kong) from 1995 to 1997 and, in 1995, served as regional coordinator/BSS specialist for Tretech Solutions, a contractor for AT&T Saudi Arabia.

2degrees is liaising with the families in the US and continues to provide support for their daughter. Staff have been offered support and an online tribute page has been added to the 2degrees website, so those wishing to post a message can do so.

2degrees’ agency TBWA\ flew the flag at half-mast over the office in Auckland yesterday as a mark of respect to mourn the passing of Hertz and his wife. 

Whybin\TBWA NZ founder David Walden says Hertz grabbed New Zealand’s telco industry by the horns and gave it the shake up Kiwis deserved.

“Eric was a great client who became a good friend, both to Andy Blood and I personally, and to the wider agency,” says Walden. “It was remarkable that Eric, an American, allowed us to really build an iconic Kiwi brand for 2degrees and embrace all of the subtle Kiwi-ness that us ‘Aotearoan’s’ display.”

Executive creative director, Andy Blood said: “Eric took our advice and empowered us to develop the Rhys character and 2degrees brand personality. The result was that the agency produced some of the work we are most proud of. He was the consumate chief executive; smart, very likeable, and had the much sought after combination of integrity and ambition. You wanted to do your best work for him.”

The families also sent out a statement this morning: 

“The families of Eric and Kathy Hertz would like to convey how grateful we all are for the tremendous outpouring of support and condolences being offered to help us deal with the shock of our sudden and tragic loss. Knowing that they both touched so many lives in a positive way is a profound reminder of how much they meant to us in our own lives. We are comforted and proud to know they were not just beloved in our families, but also integral and engaged members of the community they loved in New Zealand.

The Hertz and Picone families want to express our most sincere appreciation for the energy and love offered by the community in Auckland, Seattle and around the world. We are especially thankful for the support from everyone at Two Degrees Mobile Limited and Trilogy International Partnership who have been so helpful in guiding us through this difficult tragedy. We would also like to thank the New Zealand authorities who continue to be open, supportive and thorough in their efforts.  

As we gradually awaken from our shock we are beginning to think about how best to recognize and celebrate the lives Eric and Kathy led and will share those plans at the appropriate time. We thank you all for your continued support and condolences in what is an incredibly difficult and sad time for us all.”

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