When Mike Quigley donated his entire first-year salary of $1.95 million to a new medical research organisation in late June, it became clear just what kind of man is running the largest civil-works project in Australia's history.
Indeed, independently-wealthy Quigley — a 58-year-old UNSW graduate and leukaemia survivor who came off a successful 36-year career with Alcatel-Lucent to take a job he didn't need — has relished the chance to get stuck into a project of national significance, working with government support to pull the fledgling organisation up by its bootstraps.
There is little surprise, then, that he would do the same for Neuroscience Research Australia, using his contentious salary to kickstart an initiative to deliver rehabilitation therapy to stroke victims over the NBN. "We are all lucky or unlucky," he told The Australian recently. "As a society we only advance by understanding science and then finding the technologies that spin out of that."
It's a motto he is living by every day: over the course of the past year, Quigley has emerged from relative obscurity — and semi-permanent retirement — to help NBN Co grow from nothing to employing over 150 people and managing hundreds of millions of dollars in government spending. Quigley's distinctive bald dome and engaging manner have made him the figurehead of an organisation that has become larger and more complex by the day; his days are filled with government meetings and events where he fronts the press and other interested parties to explain NBN Co's progress
Despite his strategic role in the company, however, Quigley is only one of many executives driving the company's direction: one of his first responsibilities has been to surround himself with the best executive team — and he has embarked upon that task with aplomb. Nine key executives are named on NBN Co's site, with others being appointed all the time.