Vocus appoints ex-Telstra exec Sweeney as CEO

Vocus appoints ex-Telstra exec Sweeney as CEO

Ellie Sweeney Vocus.jpg

Australian operator Vocus has promoted Ellie Sweeney, its COO for the past four years, to be CEO.

Sweeney (pictured), who was with Telstra for 11 years, latterly in charge of enterprise services, takes over the top role as Vocus starts a A$1 billion (US$700 million), five-year investment programme to upgrade and expand the company’s fibre infrastructure.

Sweeney said: “At Vocus, we are a challenger that lives by its purpose of ‘building critical connections, enabling better possibilities.’ In my four years as COO, I’ve experienced how critical those connections are – both the fibre connections we construct, and the connections forged by our incredibly talented people with our customers.”

She replaces Kevin Russell, who has made the decision to retire. During his career he worked for Hutchison, Three UK, where he was CEO, as well as Optus and Telstra.

Vocus chair Penny Bingham-Hall said the appointment was reflective of Sweeney’s contribution to Vocus during her time as COO, and her leadership role in developing Vocus’ strategy and strong momentum.

“Ellie has proven her credentials as an outstanding business leader throughout Vocus’s turnaround phase and into the current stage of investment and growth.”

Two years ago Vocus was taken over by a consortium led by Macquarie and the Aware Super pension fund. Since then it has started a number of ambitious projects, including Project Horizon, a new 2,000km fibre connection from Perth to Port Hedland, the first competitive fibre backbone through Australia’s predominant resources region, and Project Highclere, a new 1,000km submarine cable connecting Vocus’s Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) to the North West Cable System (NWCS), establishing the final link in the $500 million Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore Cable (DJSC) system.

Only days ago it announced it was to acquire Challenge Networks, which provides 4G and 5G private mobile networks.

Vocus also provides a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite ground station network, and has partnerships with Starlink and OneWeb.

As COO since 2019, Sweeney has been responsible for leading the company’s digital and network transformation programme, the expansion of Vocus’s reach and network capacity to establish a highly secure national fibre backbone, and a significant uplift in customer experience.

Bingham-Hall said: “To have an internal successor as CEO speaks volumes about Vocus’s shared sense of purpose and unity of culture. She will be the ideal leader to see Vocus continue its market-leading growth trajectory as Australia’s fourth-largest telco.”

Sweeney, who takes over on 1 March, said in a comment on LinkedIn: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead a company as vibrant and dynamic as Vocus through the next stage of its growth ambition. The Vocus team is one of the most passionate I’ve worked with, one where our shared purpose, values and challenger spirit shines strongly in everything we do.”

She added: “Our purpose to ‘build critical connections and enable better possibilities’ will help guide our shared success for our people and customers alike.”

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