When Ziggy Switkowski was appointed executive chairman of NBN Co, he appointed many of his former Telstra colleagues to senior positions, to the extent that many said NBN Co was becoming a Telstra clone.
But the most important appointment of all was that of CEO, and that person did not come from Telstra. Bill Morrow was formerly head of Vodafone Australia, where he was instrumental in turning that troubled company around.
Now Morrow is making is own mark on the people in senior management at NBN Co. He has appointed Karina Keisler to the position of executive general manager of corporate affairs. This is the same role she had at Vodafone.
Keisler joins NBN Co with more than a decade's experience in telecommunications media relations. She was at Vodafone Australia for two years, and before that had a number of positions at Telstra, ending as principal media adviser.
In a statement announcing Keisler’s appointment, Morrow welcome her into the role:
"Karina brings with her solid experience managing all elements of the corporate affairs function at a senior level. She has long-standing relationships with the Australian media and is an expert in her field and I'm pleased to have her on the team," Morrow said.
"It's essential as we enter the next phase of the NBN rollout that there is transparency around the decisions and direction in which the rollout will proceed. I am confident Karina will help move NBN forward.”
Keisler will start with NBN Co on 2 June 2014. Like Morrow, she will have a big job. Running corporate affairs – public relations – for the controversial government owned infrastructure provider means navigating a minefield of conflicting interests and political hot potatoes.
After a couple of years dealing with the press at Vodafone, when that company was widely lambasted as a failure, has no doubt inured her to many of the slings and arrows that will come her way. During her time there she established a close working relationship with Morrow, who obviously has a high enough opinion of her abilities to lure her to NBN Co.
Her appointment follows that of Brad Whitcomb, who also worked with Morrow at Vodafone, to the new role of chief transformation officer. Whitcomb seems to follow Morrow around – he was also with him in California in 2006-2009 helping turn around Pacific Gas & Electric.