Challenges ahead for Telstra concedes CEO

Written on the 9 September 2009

Telstra CEO David Thodey concedes the telco has challenges ahead as he strives to repair the company’s public image in the wake of his American predecessor Sol Trujillo. The one-time anthropologist told Gold Coast Business News that his leadership style is open and while he has enormous respect for Trujillo, his focus is to get better value for shareholders and to decrease customer complaints.

Thodeys Views On:
Coast connection
“Overall, Telstra invests about $150 million a year in infrastructure, staff, sports, community and local business across the Gold Coast.
“The Gold Coast was the first landing point for the cable from the United States in the early days of telegraph. The local exchange, which is now part of the Southport School, was the location where the telegraph lines would come in and be distributed throughout the country. So the Gold Coast has quite a historical significance for Telstra.

“We are not like some other industries that come and go. We probably do less well at the national level and better at the local level. We are an integral part of the community and that’s where Telstra does excel.”

Broadband black spots
“We are going to have another look at it here on the Coast. There are some physical limitations in the exchanges we need to look at. We have a lot of people knocking on the door saying they want a broadband service. Part of it has obviously been the commerciality of it, and you can invest quite a lot and not get enough customers, but it’s such a great growth area, I can’t imagine that it won’t be cost justified.”

Share price
“The last 100 days it’s gone up 15 per cent. There’s a lot going on with Telstra. There is uncertainty in terms of the way forward and we have got to work through that.”

Fibre network
“We applaud the government’s vision for fibre to the home. We think there are a range of technologies that need to be considered. We could never justify the commercial investment to 90 per cent of homes.

“We are delighted that the government is investing money and we want to see how we can participate to get a better outcome for Australia, the government and Telstra shareholders.”
Future Fund

“The Future Fund said nearly four months ago that they were not a long-term holder of Telstra shares. They have been our largest investor on the register and so the sell-down was a positive thing and they seemed to get a lot of interest from the market. They sold at $3.47. The business results were very strong and the underlying cash flow generations are good, so now we need to take it to the next step.”

Leadership
“My style is different, but I hold Sol in very high respect. He’s a very astute businessman.

“I enjoy people, I’m proud to have been born in Australia and I’m delighted to work for a great Australian company and the people in Telstra are top notch. So together we can really go and make a difference and serve customers better and bring innovative technology to Australia. That’s what I enjoy doing and that’s what I will keep doing. I’m out in the market nearly everyday. I always drop in and see local teams, I enjoy doing it and it is who I am, so that won’t change.”


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