Sunday, January 11, 2009

A likely pair

Great item by Matt O'Sullivan in the SMH on the weekend. Really interesting take on the story of management at Telstra.

Some very good work - nearly investigative journalism level stuff - to figure out where Sol has been and when. But the character who comes through as more troubling is the Telstra chair. There are two particular quotes I want to address.

He is also dismissive of suggestions of a leadership change at Telstra.
"I don't think that's a serious issue at all, frankly. We have got the plan B. I think what you are looking at there is a lack of understanding on the part of a few of the analysts."

That is a really, really big call. The level of angst out there about Telstra, what the CEO and Chair are up to, is just "a lack of understanding" from some analysts. That's the kind of statement that could be interpretted as arrogance, the kind of arrogance that leads to the consequence that he was denying.

Australia is a tiny market where none of this technology is produced. All of the technology . . . all of the major players in the industry are outside Australia; and bare in mind we have got 20 per cent of our shareholders outside Australia.
"You don't win the big prizes without playing in the big game and being able to have access to the very best technologies. And you don't have that sitting in Sydney or Melbourne. Keeping those relationships, keeping in touch with the industry, I just can't tell you how important it is.

This, as some readers might know, really annoys me. Australia is the 15th largest econmy in the world, Telstra is one of the top 20 telcos in the world. We are not tiny.

Yes, we don't produce the technology here - no thanks to Telstra's predecessors who actually at their labs developed one of the first digital switches but decided we were to small to commercialise it. Nokia grew out of Finland, ricsson from Sewden.

Sccess is about mindset, not about size. The Chair of Australia's biggest telco has a "client state" mentality. Maybe he should talk to his business partner Rupert Murdoch about how you grow from a newspaper in Adelaide to being the man who owns the media!!!

Please Telstra shareholders, replace the Chair.

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