Telstra taps Juniper exec to be new chief operations officer

Robyn Denholm replaces Telstra veteran Kate McKenzie

Telstra has recruited Robyn Denholm to be its new chief operations officer, replacing Kate McKenzie.

The telco announced in July that McKenzie had decided to retire after 12 years at Telstra, including holding the COO role since 2013.

Denholm is a former chief financial officer and chief operations officer at Juniper Networks, departing the vendor mid-year. Prior to Juniper, she held a number of roles at Sun Microsystems. She is on the board of Tesla Motors and Swiss robotics company ABB.

“Robyn has a proven track record as a global COO in a business focused on telecommunications networks,” Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said in a statement. “She has overseen business model transformation, supply chain and broader business process re-engineering”

““She has been a senior executive and director in a range of complex technology environments which make her ideally qualified for the role, leading a highly capable team within Telstra,” the CEO said.

“She also brings strong understanding of the Australian market and Telstra as the leading network provider, as Juniper has been a valued partner of Telstra.”

Denholm’s new role will begin early next year. Telstra said that its acting COO, Brendon Riley, will return to his role of group executive, global enterprise and services. David Burns, who took over Riley’s role while a permanent COO was sought, will return as group managing director, network applications and services.

“These arrangements demonstrate the depth of our management team,” Penn said. “I am grateful for Brendon and David for outstanding work in their acting roles and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them in their permanent roles.”

Before her retirement, McKenzie outlined the steps Telstra was taking to improve network resilience after a number of high-profile mobile and fixed line outages that occurred earlier this year.

McKenzie is not Telstra’s only high-profile departure in 2016.

Catherine Livingstone, chair of Telstra’s board, stepped down in February.

Telstra in August revealed that its CIO and head of its cloud business, Erez Yarkoni, would be leaving. Charlotte Yarkoni, head of the Telstra Software Group and a co-founder of the company's startup accelerator muru-D, also left. Telstra CTO Vish Nandlall departed after allegations about the accuracy of his CV.

Finally the telco’s chief information security officer, Mike Burgess, left in November.

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