Thursday, August 25, 2011

All change at NBN Co

News broke yesterday afternoon of organisational changes at NBN Co. The first report I saw gave the credit to The Oz for this story.

There was no news release, the Oz and others were relying on reports they had received of Quigley's staff announcement. An immediate jump to the NBN Co website revealed no media release, but the pre-existing list of senior executives had disappeared from the tab About - People.

This morning that tab contains the content of the announcement and has been reproduced below.

The very first observation is that NBN Co would have been better advised putting out its own media release rather than rely upon the leaking of the staff announcement. They might then have managed to achieve the reporting of the CFO change as a retirement as per the announcement rather than a resignation.

The difficulty is that like so much of NBN Co's activities the moves raise more questions than answers. I don't propose to detail them here, only to note that the moves can be reasonably described as chaotic as Malcolm Turnbull has done.

A big question is what the expertise is of the new Chief Communications Officer in the core field of communications. The mangled handling of the announcement of the org changes is enough to suggest that GM Communications Andrew Sholl needs some help from above.

Indeed the much trumpeted last role at Telecom New Zealand seems to have been relatively brief. Simple research also has him quoted as supporting this campaign for abstaining from sex for the World Cup which attracted much derision.

He is a Computer Scientist by training whose last job before Telecom was running their largest retail distributor. There does not appear to have been a communications role in his prior career.

The move to create a COO is long overdue - but announcing that the CEO will "act" in the role is odd in the extreme as these people would have reported to the CEO anyway.

There may be more to comment on - I'm hunting down more details.

Organisational announcement
Message to staff:

24 August 2011

Mike Quigley
Chief Executive Officer

Today I am announcing a reorganisation of our management structure and the creation of a number of new roles in the company’s senior management team.

The reorganisation reflects our transition from a start-up focused on planning and network design to a company capable of delivering the full-scale rollout of the National Broadband Network across Australia.

The organisational changes include:

•The appointment of a Chief Communications Officer to manage government, media and stakeholder relations as well as oversee the public information campaign that will inform and educate the Australian public about the NBN rollout;
•An integration of sales, pricing, industry relations and regulatory functions in the expanded department of Product Management & Industry Relations;
•An increased focus on quality planning, control and improvement with the appointment of a Head of Quality;
•The creation of a new role of Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for construction, deployment planning, IT and network operations;
•The bringing together of supply chain management, procurement, commercial strategy and the management of the Definitive Agreements with Telstra and Optus, as part of the Corporate Services department.

In two short years NBN Co has moved from being an embryonic company to an established business that is ready to build and operate a national network.

In that time we’ve achieved some significant milestones: We’ve entered into 16 key supply agreements for construction partners, equipment suppliers and service providers; signed up 28 telcos and ISPs as wholesale and retail customers; and planned and developed the network architecture for the fibre, satellite and fixed-wireless services. In addition, we have concluded the Definitive Agreements with Telstra and Optus for access to their customers and infrastructure, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

That’s why it’s critical we move to the next step in our evolution. I am confident that this reorganisation of our management structure will enable us to deliver Australia’s largest infrastructure project in an efficient and coordinated manner.

The restructuring will see seven departments reporting into the CEO, including four newly-created or newly-consolidated departments. These are:

Chief Operating Officer encompassing the following functions: Construction (Dan Flemming, who is confirmed today as Head of Construction), Network Operations (Steve Christian), Planning & Design (Peter Ferris), Chief Information Officer (Claire Rawlins), New Developments (Archie Wilson), Health, Safety & Environment (Kim Flanagan), and Local Community Relations (which Mike Kaiser will continue to manage in the short term). A worldwide search has commenced for a COO. Until we make a permanent appointment, I will manage the COO’s responsibilities.

Chief Communications Officer, Kieren Cooney. Kieren is joining NBN Co in November to take up a newly-created position that will be responsible for the company’s Government, Communications and Stakeholder Relations. He will also oversee a nationwide consumer information campaign covering the migration from copper- and HFC-based telecommunications networks to the fibre-enabled NBN. Kieren has held senior executive positions across the telecommunications industry, most recently as Chief Marketing Officer at Telecom New Zealand. Previously he was CEO of Leading Edge NZ, a nationwide telecommunications reseller and retailer. Until his arrival, Kieren’s responsibilities will be managed by Kevin Brown.

Head of Quality, Mike Kaiser. Mike moves from his position as Principal, Government Relations & External Affairs to a new role responsible for implementing a comprehensive quality framework for the company.

Head of Product Management & Industry Relations, Jim Hassell. Jim’s department is now responsible for Regulatory Affairs including the WBA (Caroline Lovell), Pricing (Dieter Schadt), Revenue (Stephen Myers) and Industry Analysis. These functions join with his existing responsibilities for Product Management (Leica Ison), Sales (Ben Salmon) and Product Marketing (Tim Smith).

In other moves:

Corporate Services, headed by Kevin Brown, will now include Commercial Affairs and the Definitive Agreements with Telstra and Optus (Tim Smeallie) and Supply Chain Management (Robin Payne). These functions join with Procurement (Alasdair Fuller), Legal Affairs (Justin Forsell), Facilities (Graham Millett) and Security (Ben Heyes). The Company Secretary (Debra Connor) will report to the chairman of the board and Justin Forsell. A search has commenced for a Chief of Human Resources; Kevin will continue to act in this role until an appointment is made.

Chief Technology Officer Gary McLaren continues responsibility for Network Architecture & Technology (Tony Cross), the National Test Facility (Peter Girvan), and Product Engineering (Chris Roberts), Technology Vendor Liaison (Paul Lazarou), Transit (Andre Du Raan), Satellite (Matt Dawson) and Wireless (Joe Prelc).

Regrettably, as a result of the reorganisation Christy Boyce is leaving the company. I thank her for her contribution.

Also, Jean-Pascal Beaufret, our Chief Financial Officer, has informed me that he wishes to retire. Jean-Pascal has agreed to remain with the company until January 2012 while a search is conducted for his successor. Jean-Pascal has been an invaluable asset for NBN Co in developing our corporate plan and establishing robust financial systems. On behalf of all of us at NBN Co, we wish him well and thank him for his invaluable contribution.

What the reorganisation does not change however is the task at hand: which is to deliver a world class communications infrastructure that will sustain Australia for decades to come.

I’m confident we are putting in place the right structure to carry out that task on behalf of the Australian taxpayer.

I look forward to continue working with you to deliver this vital project for the nation.

Mike Quigley
Chief Executive Officer

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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