Monday, 25 July 2016 16:35

COO Kate McKenzie departing Telstra in aftermath of network woes Featured

Kate McKenzie, Telstra Kate McKenzie, Telstra

Telstra chief operations officer Kate McKenzie is leaving the telco after 12-years in the job and in the wake of a raft of network outages which have plagued the company this year.

McKenzie was appointed as chief operations officer in 2013 after joining the company in 2007.  She was previously director of strategic marketing and head of Telstra Wholesale.

McKenzie announced on Monday she was retiring from Telstra and would leave the telco in coming weeks, to be replaced temporarily by group executive global enterprise and services, Brendon Riley, who takes over as interim chief operations officer while Telstra searches for a permanent replacement. Riley held the post from 2011 to 2013 and is a former IBM global executive.

“It has been a wonderful 12 years with Telstra and I am very proud of all the people I have worked with and what we have achieved together,” McKenzie said.

“The time is right for me to change direction in my career. I leave knowing that Telstra, under (Telstra chief executive) Andy Penn’s leadership, has a great strategy for the future and wish the company, its people and its shareholders every success.”

There has been no indication if McKenzie has quit over the problems of constant network outrages, choosing to take voluntary retirement and not being pushed out, although a company spokeswoman is reported as saying said it was McKenzie's decision to retire.

And, Penn said in the statement issued yesterday that McKenzie had been a “positive force for Telstra, supporting four chief executive officers and working to build our technology and innovation capability”.

Penn said McKenzie had been a significant contributor to the telco’s customer-focused culture and a “role model for women in the organisation. I have appreciated her support and counsel”, and had given significant service across a range of portfolios and responsibilities.

Telstra has had an “annus horribilis” this year, suffering constant network outages affecting millions of its customers nationally, including just last month when its IP network went down, with enterprise customers losing Internet connections for up to seven hours, and prompting yet another apology from Penn to the 75,000 customers affected.

Telstra has repeatedly offered its customers "free data days" in compensation for the outages, but the big telco’s reputation has taken a big hit, even as it continues to hold on to a dominant marketshare from major competitors like second- and third-placed carriers, Optus and Vodafone.

The impending departure of McKenzie — who was often the public face for the telco during the network outages comes as Penn continues to shake up the telco with changes in its executive ranks and the company positions Telstra as a broad-based ICT services provider, pursuing an aggressive global investment strategy and overseas expansion, including in the Asia Pacific market.

But the changes have come at a cost for some employees, with Telstra announcing earlier this month that it would be slashing more than 300 jobs in its customer service centres, with most of the work to be outsourced to the Philippines.

The planned move angered the powerful Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) with many of its members employed by the big telco, and followed Telstra’s announcement in October that 400 jobs would be axed from its Hobart, Launceston, Perth, Ballarat and Townsville call centres.

McKenzie was group managing director, Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing, from 2010 to 2013, in charge of major product units including mobiles, fixed voice and broadband, network applications and services, data and IP, National Broadband Network team and chief technology office.

She joined Telstra in 2004 as head of Telstra's regulatory group and was promoted within a year to deputy group managing director for public policy and communications, later taking up the role of group managing director of strategic marketing and group managing director of Telstra Wholesale.

Before joining Telstra, McKenzie was director-general of the Department of Commerce in New South Wales and held senior executive roles in government departments and offices.

McKenzie is a director of Foxtel and Allianz Australia and a former director of Sydney Water and the Rail Corporation of New South Wales.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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