Promotions abound at NBN Co

The National Broadband Network wholesaler's employee headcount is skyrocketing, with all signs indicating it is the place to head for a quick run up the career ladder

One of the chief benefits of getting in on the ground of a fast-moving startup company is a speedy ascension up the promotion curve as the company grows.

As new employees are hired and the company structures evolve, spaces often open up above loyal employees -- even if they have only been with the company for a few months - and they can shift upward with relative ease.

The fledgling company tasked with building and operating Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has been no exception to this rule. NBN Co might have only been properly operating for less than a year -- with chief executive Mike Quigley stepping on board as its first employee in late July 2009 - but a handful of promotions appear to have already rippled through its ranks.

Take Scott Ordner, for example. According to his publicly available LinkedIn account, the executive joined NBN Co as a project manager in January 2010 after a distinguished career with a number of other large organisations such as Sydney Water, Vodafone and Optus. Just two months later - in March 2010 - it appears Ordner had been promoted to program manager.

It's a similar case with HR specialist David Auld who, according to his LinkedIn profile, joined NBN Co as a HR consultant in August 2009 - which would have likely made him one of Quigley's first hires at NBN Co. Auld has a significant corporate pedigree - for five years through the middle of this decade he was Qantas' manager of Remuneration & Programs - and previously Jetstar's head of people.

Just five months after the executive joined NBN Co, it appears, he was promoted to be the company's general manager of Training, Strategy & Internal Communications.

When you start pulling together a broad picture NBN Co's workforce - as we have been doing this week - you'll find that Ordner & Auld appear to be quite representative of NBN Co's evolving roster. Both appear to be highly focused, professionals with a great deal of experience in both large organisations (often in the public sector, or former government monopolies like Telstra and Qantas) as well as startups or fast-growing companies such as Optus in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Both have taken the opportunity to get in early on the ground at what is expected to become one of Australia's largest telecommunications companies within a matter of years. And they appear to already be reaping the benefits.

There is a further characteristic common to NBN staff - they normally have a strong technical background. The most common words to appear in an NBN Co job title are 'architect', 'project manager' or 'engineer' - we were able to find very few marketing or administrative staff at the company.

Other examples of NBN Co staff who appear to have been quickly promoted include John Gonzalez, who appears to have joined NBN Co as a service delivery manager on a contract in November 2009 and last month won the position of manager - End User Technology and former Uecomm/Telstra staffer Glenn Woods, who joined as a systems architect in January and is now a solution architect.

Well-known industry figure Landry Fevre, who left Vodafone to work in market intelligence/commercial strategy for NBN Co in September 2009, won the NBN Co title of general manager of Media and Commercial Strategy in May 2010.

As a side note, Fevre's former colleague at analyst firm IDC, Shing Quah, now also works at NBN Co - in business planning and development.

According to NBN Co's own LinkedIn profile, the company has hired an additional nine staff in the last month alone, with room for more, despite fears of uncertainty in the rest of the telecommunications industry.

Peoplebank chief executive Peter Acheson said of the apparent wave of promotions inside NBN Co that it was a phenomenon common to startups - the "quick vertical movement" was one of the attractions to working inside new companies.

It was important, he said, that NBN Co make sure that as part of its hiring process that it was bringing in certain personality types that were pre-disposed to working in a startup environment - staff who were flexible, adaptable, able to embrace change and deal with fluid situations.

Such people would thrive in the startup environment and quickly move through the ranks.

"It's fairly typical of a startup and a good sign," he said.

Many of the jobs that NBN Co currently has vacant - the list is available on its web site - are for managerial positions, such as a spot as a project director of the company's Melbourne-based network operations centre and national test facility - which was only announced last week.

But there are also many mid-level roles - for engineering, architectural, analyst positions and so on. NBN Co is planning to host some 425 staff in its Melbourne NOC when fully operational, Quigley said last week - with its existing office in Melbourne CBD to house a further 290. Hundreds more will be located in Sydney, where NBN Co has set up permanent shop with an eight-year lease on a facility in North Sydney with 3,000 square metres.

According to Acheson, it could be 18 months to 2 years before the company structure, culture and headcount started to stabiliise.

"Let's be honest, this thing's only starting to ramp," he said.

Tags nbn coNational Broadband Network (NBN)Mike Quigley

More about etworkIDC AustraliaOptusPeoplebankQantasQuigleySydney WaterTelstra CorporationUecommVodafone

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