Telstra chairman departs as CEO confirmed

As Telstra sets to bring in David Thodey as the company’s new chief executive, replacing Sol Trujillo; Telstra’s chairman Donald McGauchie has resigned his post as Chairman of the Board, effective immediately, as a surprise to many.

Board member Catherine Livingstone will assume McGauchie’s role. Livingstone has been with the board of directors since 2000 and has been a recipient of an Order of Australia – one of Australia’s prestigious awards.

Thodey, 54, was previously the senior executive of Telstra for eight years, joining the company from IBM where he was the CEO of its Australian and New Zealand operations. He has been responsible for both corporate, government and large business customers in Australia, and in charge of its international sales division and New Zealand company TelstraClear.

In a press release statement, Thodey is set to continue the work that his predecessor has done for the past four years.

“Our strategy remains unchanged: to continue to provide customers with world-class products and services,” he said. “The key to Telstra continuing to win and to serve customers will be finishing our transformation that started nearly four years ago. Completing the transformation will enable us to deliver a superior customer experience and the financial outcomes that our shareholders expect.”

Under Trujillo, Telstra managed to establish a high-speed data network that spreads across almost all of Australia – replacing the old CDMA network, but also became the scorn of many telecommunication unions after many clashes which resulted in strikes by its workers.

Thodey has no close relationships with key ministers in government, but has been regarded as relatively clam. He was picked out of three internal candidates, including one British.

Livingstone, in the same press release, praised the leadership of Telstra under McGauchie over the past five years, thanking him for steering the board through the process of selecting the new CEO.

“Donald has made a tremendous contribution to the company over more than a decade, both at the board level and in his crucial role in the establishment of Telstra CountryWide,” she said in a statement. “Donald has a deep understanding of Telstra’s importance to Australians, particularly those in regional and rural areas.”

“Through his hard work and commitment, Donald led the board through the transition of Telstra to a fully privatised company. At the same time, the company was undertaking an extraordinarily complex transformation across the company’s operations. Donald’s was an extremely difficult job, handled with great care and professionalism.”

Also announced was the appointment of chief financial officer John Stanhope as an executive in the board, and Peter Willcox resignning from the board after concerns that the James Hardie judgement may have caused some embarrassment to Telstra. Willcox will remain on the board until the Annual General Meeting in November, and will not stand for re-election.

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