The multi-billion dollar merger of local insurers Suncorp and Promina has raised some interest (to put it mildly) within the Australian community, as such things are wont to do.
That's why when Suncorp chief executive John Mulcahy abruptly scheduled a telephone media conference after lunch yesterday, your writer scrambled to fit the event into his diary. The topic? Suncorp's new executive team.
Of prime interest was the appointment of former Telstra chief information officer Jeff Smith to Suncorp's top technology role. Smith has been flying under the radar since he left the telco back in 2005.
Those with good memories will remember his ill-fated effort to bring open-source software into Telstra. The attempt kept Smith in the daily headlines during his tenure.
However, your writer didn't get a chance to quiz Mulcahy about Smith's appointment, or other matters pertaining to the merger. The reason? A tricky teleconferencing system that stymied questions from the media.
After Mulcahy said his piece, the Q&A session commenced, but was broken up in fits and starts as the teleconferencing system used by Suncorp appeared to buckle under the load. Some financial analysts managed to put questions in, but the media lost out at the end, after extended periods of silence and a disembodied voice asking "hello?"
Your writer would suggest that one of Smith's first (and easier) tasks should be to iron out the telephone gremlins.