Despite his reputation for diplomacy, new Telstra CEO David Thodey will be as equally tough a competitor as Sol Trujillo ever was, according to former Optus executive and telco industry insider Paul Fletcher.
“He is known to be smooth and diplomatic and personable, but he is a shrewd operator and will undoubtedly be a hard-nosed protector of Telstra’s interests, as is his job,” Fletcher told CIO.
“The symbolism may change a little with the new CEO, and there may be a little bit less of the aggressive public posturing, but [Thodey’s job] will be to advance and protect Telstra’s interests and he will do that to the maximum of his ability.”
Fletcher, a seasoned competitor to Telstra and author of Wired Brown Land: Telstra’s Battle for Broadband, said Thodey would likely bring his strong background in corporate IT and telecoms to bear upon Telstra’s largest rival, Optus.
“The commercial relationship with Optus, as with any competitor to Telstra, will remain extremely vigorous,” Fletcher said.
“The [wider] relationship between Telstra and Optus is always going to be a multi-faceted one as they are very vigorous competitors and at the same time Telstra is a major supplier to Optus.”
Fletcher said one of the early priorities for Thodey would be to work out how Telstra should engage with the Rudd government on its plans for the National Broadband Network.
“One of his priorities will be to fix up the mess that has been left of the relationship between Telstra and the government,” he said. “That will call on his diplomatic skills.”