Pizza and Trujillo: The perfect combo

Summary:When Telstra boss Sol Trujillo took up the microphone at the National Press Club in Canberra at lunchtime on Thursday he knew the next hour would be a bumpy ride. The executive hadn't spoken publicly in Australia since Telstra's mid-year results event in February.

When Telstra boss Sol Trujillo took up the microphone at the National Press Club in Canberra at lunchtime on Thursday he knew the next hour would be a bumpy ride.

The executive hadn't spoken publicly in Australia since Telstra's mid-year results event in February.

Telstra's actions since that time have done much to earn it the enmity of politicians, the rest of the telecommunications industry and even its own shareholders.

Sol Trujillo

Trujillo would have known that a fighter squadron of the nation's top journalists sitting just metres away wouldn't let him off the hook. And they certainly didn't.

It made great television.

At the time I was sitting back and relaxing in a leather chair in ZDNet Australia's board room, munching some delicious pizza.

Of course, I had to report on the event, but the ABC did a great job of broadcasting every minute from Canberra and so I could watch events unfold without actually being there.

Having attended a few press conferences in my time, I have to say both the assembled reporters and Trujillo himself put on a great show.

The journalists did their best to shut down Trujillo with questions like this pearler:

"Sol, you like to talk a lot about your successes and obviously you've had a few. I think even these days your time at Graviton was left off your CV."

"You spent two years there and the company collapsed. Can you tell us what happened there and is there any danger that's going to happen at Telstra?"

Put yourself in Trujillo's shoes for a minute ... imagine having to explain on national television why a tech startup you were in charge of went bust.

"In the case of Graviton, we built a great product, ready to go to market," responded Trujillo.

"The problem is in that period of time post-Y2K nobody was buying it."

Not exactly the kind of image you want Telstra's shareholders to receive just five weeks shy of Telstra's annual results being released.

But it has to be said that Trujillo held his own.

He never lost his cool with the wolves snapping at his hamstrings and even won a few points at the expense of his competitors.

And Trujillo certainly got a few laughs when he strugged off being unpopular with the nation's politicians.

Some people even clapped after the Telstra boss stood his ground in the face of a question asking about whether he would resign if he couldn't secure satisfactory government regulations for Telstra to operate under.

Whatever else people say about Telstra's imported CEO, they'd have to give him some credit for his performance.

The journos also deserve praise for -- as they say -- keeping the b******* honest.

What do you think of Telstra's CEO Sol Trujillo? A great leader or a chump? Drop me a line directly at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post some feedback below.

Topics: Telcos, Government : AU, Telstra

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