Penn axes top execs amid management shake-up

31 July 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

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Four of Telstra's senior management team have been fired as part of a major company restructuring.

Leaving the company is Warwick Bray, Telstra’s CFO since 2015 who will leave the company on 30 September; Stephen Elop, Telstra’s group executive of technology, innovation and strategy joined the company in 2016 and leaves immediate but will retain a close working relationship with the company; Will Irving became group general counsel in 2005 and most recently group executive of Telstra Wholesale and leaves the company 30 September; and lastly Joe Pollard, chief marketing officer and group executive media, and she leaves from 30 August before Jeremy Nicholas becomes acting group executive until the company integrates the media and marketing teams into the wider operating model.

"I would like to recognise the significant contributions Warwick, Will, Stephen and Joe have made to Telstra and thank them for their dedication to Telstra collectively over the years. We will arrange appropriate farewells in coming weeks,"  said Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra. 

The news comes months after Penn confirmed the loss of 8,000 jobs at the company, specifically one in four executive and middle management roles to flatten the structure.

At the time Penn said: "In the future our workforce will be a smaller, knowledge-based one with a structure and way of working that is agile enough to deal with rapid change. This means that some roles will no longer be required, some will change and there will also be new ones created. We understand the impact this will have on our employees and once we make decisions on specific changes, we are committed to talking to impacted staff first and ensuring we support them through this period."

Announced to his staff a few days ago via email,, said: "These are important steps to help us deliver our new Telstra22 (T22) strategy and incorporate the feedback from many of you about the impediments and pain points which get in the way of us executing."

Joining the company’s new group executive team, effective 1 October 2018, is:

  • Michael Ebeid who will head up the company’s enterprise team, servicing Australian and international business and government customers. Ebeid will start at Telstra on 8 October.
  • Vicki Brady will retain her role as head of consumer & small business designing digitally-led propositions for customers, managing customer relationships with superior sales and services capabilities, to acquire new customers and grow Telstra’s base.
  • Nikos Katinakis will lead the networks & IT division, focusing on expanding the company’s network and improving the digital experience for customers. Katinakis joins Telstra in mid-October.
  • Brendon Riley will become the CEO of Telstra InfraCo, the company’s standalone infrastructure business unit.
  • David Burns, who is currently with the enterprise team, will lead global business services (GBS) to bring together and radically simplify customer service operations and internal support services. Burns assumes this position immediately.
  • Robyn Denholm enters the role of chief financial officer & head of strategy. Her primary goal is to lead Telstra’s digitisation initiative for FY19.
  • Alex Badenoch, will be in charge of transformation & people leading the execution of T22 strategy transformation as well as driving the way the company works and operates, strengthening employee engagement. In addition a transformation delivery office has also been created to deliver an integrated and disciplined approach to implementation.
  • Carmel Mulhern, will continue in her role as head of legal & corporate affairs, engaging external stakeholders, including relationships with government, regulators, media and the community. Additionally, Mulhern will also continue to hold the office of group general counsel and managing the internal provision of legal advice and employee communications.

Telstra22 is the company’s three year plan comprised of four pillars or goals:

  • To radically simplify its product offerings, eliminate customer pain points and create all digital experience
  • To establish a standalone infrastructure business to drive performance and set up optionality post the nbn rollout
  • To greatly simplify its structure and ways of working to empower its people and serve its customers 
  • And to introduce an industry leading cost reduction programme and portfolio management