Former Nokia, Optus Chiefs Join Telstra


Australian major telecommunication company, Telstra is fast expanding its top talent pool by adding more veterans.  The latest additions are former Nokia chief executive, Stephen Elop as the new head of technology and strategy and former Optus chief, Kevin Russell who was appointed as head of retail.

Elop spent three years as head of Nokia before joining Microsoft as its devices boss. He will report to Telstra CEO Andy Penn. According to sources, the Canadian executive will start his new innings in early April and shuttle between the US and Australia, IT News reported.

“Stephen will immediately add major firepower to our team with his extensive and deep technology experience and an innate sense of customer expectations. He is a recognised international technology leader and strategist from across a range of global organisations,” Penn noted in a statement.

Elop will assume the responsibility of business groups that will include the chief technology officer, chief scientist, software group and corporate strategy. He hailed Telstra as “one of the most innovative and insightful” companies in the telco sector.

“Telstra has a strong focus on its customers, and a willingness to invest in advanced products and services to best serve those customers,” Elop said in a statement.

Telstra also announced the appointment of former Optus CEO Kevin Russell as the new retail head. Russell will be tasked with leading Telstra’s consumer, business, stores and product functions. He will also report to Penn.

Meanwhile, Telstra has come under pressure in defending its reputation as Australia’s premier telecom. Its image took a hit on March 17 after a major outage troubled the network in less than two months.

The outage of Thursday evening had 8 million mobile customers rendered helpless in making calls or going online. It had a similar country-wide network break down on February 9. However, Telstra blamed the outage on overseas connection problems, reports SBS quoting AFP.

To mollify the customers, Telstra again offered free mobile data for 24 hours and tendered an apology.

Chief executive Andrew Penn said, in a statement, that the latest incident was “deeply disappointing.” Telstra faces strong competition from rivals such as Singapore  Telecommunication’s Optus and Vodafone Hutchison.

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