Roary Stasko, CEO at Telstra International says businesses need to create the right culture to retain talent
Big Interview

Roary Stasko, CEO at Telstra International says businesses need to create the right culture to retain talent


Roary Stasko, CEO at Telstra International talks to Capacity’s Nadine Hawkins about his work with the GLF and what can be done to address the issue of talent retention in the industry.

Stasko has had a busy few months. After taking over as CEO at Telstra International in the summer, he also became a GLF board member and is looking forward to tackling a topic that is close to his heart at Capacity Europe this week. The challenge of nurturing and retaining talent within the industry.

The GLF are scheduled to meet at Capacity’s flagship event Capacity Europe in London this week and a key focus for the group will be how they are going to shape the Accelerator Program for future cohorts.

Stasko said, “It’s such a great event for us to come together as an industry and see our peers and connect with our customers and partners. There are few opportunities to get face time and talk about new business opportunities, growth and how we can work together in the future in such a condensed period of time.

“Telecom workforces have been declining by about 1% to 5% annually across most regions worldwide, including Europe and the Americas (source S&P Capital IQ – Bain & Co analysis). And while there is a shortage of talent, there is strong market competition. We also have both a gender and age imbalance in our workforce.

“If we look at the profile of our industry today, I see some skews. We lack some of the diversity we are probably going to need to capture the skills and capabilities needed to support for the next era of transformation and innovation. We have a lot of really talented people who know how to run and operate our businesses today, but the rapid pace of technological change is going to require a different set of skills in the future. This is going to require us to attract young, diverse talent to our industry.”

Stasko has been vocal about his viewpoint that he does not believe there is a talent problem in the industry. Instead, he believes it is about nurturing existing talent and creating a culture that makes people want to stay.

“In the telecom industry there’s competition for talent. Are there businesses that have culture problems? Absolutely.

“I actually see it as a talent opportunity. I have had tremendous teams and people that I have gotten to work with since I joined Telstra. In fact, one of the things that stood out to me was the calibre of talent and experience that Telstra was able to attract.

“The diversity of experiences and capabilities – some technical, some functional - that people bring from various sectors and then how they apply that in the telecom space for a large business-like Telstra is extraordinary.

“So, at an industry level, specific businesses will face a talent problem, that's a question of how they focus on it, how they engage with employees, what opportunities are provided and how a business thinks about culture. Jobseekers are now looking for workplaces which align with their personal and professional values.”

Stasko believes that attracting and retaining talent is intrinsically linked with the business performance as people want to be part of the success story.

“Being a growing business is also part of attracting the best young people. People want to be part of a growth business, and if we are growing, we are able to provide people more opportunities.

“We have some specific programs to support young talent like the Americas Internship program which ran last summer. Over eight weeks we welcomed a group of seven talented interns across the US and provided them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience across marketing, paralegal, sales, solution architecture, and field services.

“We also have a specific focus on culture, and if we look at our values and purpose, they help support that. We are a very purpose driven organisation and find that people tend to resonate with a business when they have a connection to its purpose. So, it is not only about the programs we can offer, but who we are as a business. It is critical for us in attracting, developing, and retaining the right talent.

“More broadly speaking at Telstra, we’re improving the career experience for our people through a transparent executive succession planning process, providing greater clarity and visibility of career paths, plus insights and tools to support development towards succession readiness.”

AI remains a dominant topic in the industry and Stasko believes that whilst there may be some drawbacks there may be a way to harness it to support talent acquisition.

“There’s lots of great new use cases with AI like intelligent automation, network optimisation and data management which lead to benefits including improved customer experiences, effective resource allocation and increased sales efficiency.

“A great example was born from our Americas internship program where the team created a pilot, leveraging the chat functionality in modern machine learning models to increase our sales team efficiency through the quote to cash process.

“I think when it comes to AI you need to invest the time to make it your business. Don’t wait for someone else to give you a strategy, go explore (in a safe way from a corporate perspective) and start thinking about the ways AI can streamline process or improve customer experiences.

“From a talent acquisition perspective, AI can support things like skills-based analysis, remote working, and career mapping. Telstra is embracing new AI technology through an internal talent marketplace. This will help our people discover and explore career paths that fit their interests and provide development and learning recommendations to help build readiness for these future opportunities.”

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