From dinosaur to innovator

Staff writer
11 Jun 2013

Telecom CEO of the Year

Telstra's David Thodey

Last year's winner:Smart's Napoleon Nazareno
Business segments:Fixed line, mobile voice and data, broadband, cloud
Chairman / CEO:Catherine Livingstone / David Thodey
Key stats:Net profit after tax of A$3.4 billion ($3.5 billion), up 5.4% (FY12); added 1.6 million new domestic mobile customers, increased bundled customer numbers by more than 30%

The past few years have been hectic for Australia's incumbent, having focused on organizational change and stressing simplification, savings and service in 2009 and 2010. But the company's most important initiatives have been all about customer services.

With David Thodey at the helm, Telstra negotiated the NBN agreement, maintained its network leadership in the mobile market and branched out into growth businesses of media, network applications and services, and Asia.

In 2011 and 2012, Thodey says Telstra's focus was on cultural change - emphasizing the need to put the customer at the center of everything they do. In 2013 and beyond, the company is focusing on embedding that organizational and cultural change in turning customers into campaigners.

He says Telstra is asking staff to treat customers how they would like to be treated themselves. Apparently, the people are responding and results are encouraging - employee engagement is reportedly up, customer satisfaction is up and complaints are down, and customer numbers for mobiles keep climbing.

Thodey says Telstra has a unique opportunity after investing in networks and systems, simplifying its business, and focusing on the customer. The company has regained momentum in the market and has - through the NBN deal - found more regulatory certainty and greater strategic flexibility, he says.

"We have spent the past four years building a new company from the inside out that is all about service," explains Thodey. "We want to change the way people talk about Telstra and turn our customers into our advocates."

Judges' comment

"Telstra's CEO is responsible for one of the biggest turnaround stories in 2012, transforming his company from an incumbent dinosaur in a challenging regulatory environment into a customer-centric market innovator, particularly on the mobile broadband front. Under Thodey's leadership, revenues are up and the company stock was outperforming the local market index by 35%."

Telecom Asia Awards 2013 Winners:


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