Telstra shakes up executive team look

BigPond head and consumer and channels group managing director leave the company

Telstra (ASX:TLS) has revamped its executive team and created a new internal product and marketing group.

Voice, broadband and media general manager, Justin Milne, has quit the company. Milne also headed up BigPond and will be replaced by Telstra staffer J-B Rousselot from 1 June. Milne, who was formerly chief executive officer of ISP OzEmail, was one of Telstra’s staunchest critics before he joined the company in 2002.

iiNet managing director, Michael Malone, said Milne's departure would be a big loss for Telstra.

"“I’d wish he’d given us a heads up on the $29.95 move,” he joked.

“BigPond in the dial up world had 22 per cent market share. Under Justin’s leadership, it managed about 50 per cent for broadband. Having an entrepreneur like Justin operating inside Telstra was a huge contributor to that.”

Former UK HP executive and European director, Godon Ballantyne, will take on the position of consumer and channels group managing director. Incumbent Glenice Maclellan has resigned.

Existing general manager of customer experience, simplicity and productivity, Robert Nason, will assume responsibility for corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions.

A new chief marketing officer role has also been created and will be filled by strategic marketing head, Kate McKenzie, who will oversee product innovation, promotion and pricing across wireless, data, applications and services, mobility products, voice, broadband and media.

Program office lead, Stuart Lee, has also been promoted to general managing director.

All other executive roles will remain with each reporting to Telstra chief executive officer, David Thodey.

“Telstra’s core objectives are to provide our customers with innovative products and services, and to serve our customers better than anybody else,” Thodey said in a statement to the ASX.

“This reorganisation is designed to get the right people and processes in place. It will enable us to better deliver Australians the services and products they want and to profitably grow our business domestically and internationally.”

The latest changes come in a year of upheaval for Telstra since former CEO Sol Trujillo left the company.

Not long after the announcement of Trujillo’s resignation, chairman Donald McGauchie resigned on the same day new Thodey was appointed.

Board member, Catherine Livingstone, replaced McGauchie as chair.

And in November, Thodey announced a shakeup of the company's structure which included the creation of two new product units to enable the telco to compete effectively in fixed and mobile markets.

The first, wireless, data, applications and services, is headed up by Philip Jones, and the second, PSTN, fixed broadband, BigPond and Media was headed by Milne.

An International unit, headed by Tarek Robbiati, was also created and is responsible for bringing together all of Telstra's Asian assets — including CSL, Reach, and Telstra's businesses in China — into a single business unit.

A new Customer Satisfaction, Simplification & Productivity unit responsible for improving customer service has also been created. Nason, formerly Tabcorp managing director for wagering, now becomes the lead for the business unit from February 2010.

Michael Rocca was appointed as acting chief operations officer and manages the company’s recently consolidated network, technology and IT functions. Those changes also cost a scalp — Holly Kramer, group managing director, Telstra Product Management, left to “pursue other opportunities”.

The latest changes also come amid the telco’s vital negotiations with NBN Co over its role in the National Broadband Network (NBN) and shortly after Telstra posted weak financial results while competitors, such as Optus, performed strongly.

After releasing its half-year results, many analysts agreed Thodey had some major work to do to turn the ailing company around.

Foremost among these issues are the massive decline in PSTN revenues, a falling market share in fixed and mobile broadband and the need to reap tangible returns from the telco’s massive investment its IT modernisation program.

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Tags TelstraASXbigpondDavid Thodey

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