Optus CEO Kevin Russell resigns

Optus CEO Kevin Russell resigns

Summary: Optus CEO Kevin Russell has announced that he will leave the company, just over two years into the role.

TOPICS: Telcos, Optus

Optus CEO Kevin Russell has resigned from the company after just over two years in the role.

(Image: Optus)

The CEO will depart the company on March 31, 2014, with former Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan briefly stepping back into the CEO role in Australia until a replacement has been found.

O'Sullivan said Russell had mentioned to him "several months ago" that he was looking to move onto other challenges after repositioning the company. O'Sullivan paid tribute to Russell's work at the company in his two years in the role.

"Kevin joined Optus just over two years ago, and has provided strong leadership in repositioning the company. Several months ago, Kevin told me that he wished to move on to other challenges on completion of this phase, after ensuring an orderly transition that embeds the strategic transformation he has led," he said in a statement.

"Kevin has worked with our management team to roll out a number of positive changes to Optus. We have a strong leadership team in place to deliver our goal of becoming Australia's most-loved service brand, and with the recent transformation of Optus' mobile network and customer experience, we are well placed for the year ahead."

It is understood that O'Sullivan had only briefed his senior executive team on his decision to leave the company this morning.

Russell's arrival at Optus two years ago heralded a change in the way the company operated, and the plans on offer to customers. On returning to Australia after five years abroad, he said the telecommunications market in Australia had deteriorated. He instituted a number of new plans, and ceased charging large excess fees to customers who go over their monthly data or call limits.

Earlier this month, Optus reported that for the three months to the end of December 2013, Optus shed 64,000 customers and recorded a AU$98 million decline in mobile revenue, but a 41.4 percent jump in year-on-year profit.

The outgoing CEO of Optus rival Vodafone, Bill Morrow, paid tribute to Russell.

"I admire Kevin, he's a straight-up guy, a professional of high integrity. I have no doubt he will be missed at Optus."

More to come.

Topics: Telcos, Optus


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • There must be a LOT more to this

    I believe in the coming weeks there will be a LOT more to come out of this. Is it clear why he is leaving? Going back overseas with family I would understand however if he stays local, I think it can point to certain internal issues at Optus. There have been some uneasy HR situations in the organisation over the past 2-3 years and several court cases with Telstra, franchisees and even staff wouldn't have helped.
    • Easy

      The reasoning is easy - Singtel run the company from Singapore, Russell has always been his own man so the politics of that would have driven him nuts. With the recent results showing better profitability then he has clearly chosen his time carefully. Good luck to him.
  • Kevin and more to go

    I believe that this has been a very poor period for Optus and this is not bad news. A lot of personnel has been recruited recently from similar back grounds [failed Telcos] who may well be looking around
    David Boyd
    • Russell will be missed

      You couldn't be more wrong - within 2 years he has improved the profitability of the company in a way that is highly sustainable and I don't know what your reference to failed telcos is about - Russell turned around 3UK from a basket case and when he left 3 Australia to go to the UK it was the fastest growing telco in Australia. It sounds like a personal gripe rather than any factual or logical reasoning
      • Kevin and more to go

        Hi Waazza Russell, Optus has just seven [7] consecutive quarters of negative growth. So last quarter if hypothetically Optus gained 100,000 numbers the 169,000 walked away from Optus. Sure cost cutting and sacking staff provides a short term sugar hit and the other obvious benefit is that with fewer clients you can have less customer service personnel. I gather you would subscribe to the theory that the more clients you lose the better the result is?
        Vivid has not improved under their new ownership.
        David Boyd
        • Selective

          David I get that you may have a personal gripe with Optus, perhaps one of those let go, however the financial results aren't the result of a "sugar hit" and for anyone reading this I'd suggest taking a look at them. EBITDA, margin, profit have all increased over his tenure, two measures of brand health have improved (cost to acquire and cost to retain) and losing subscribers is only a problem if you are losing customers that are high margin and clearly based on the results Optus are not doing this - not all customers are profitable.
  • Looks like they fucked up Vividwireless

    I was thinking about getting the wireless as addition to my adsl, but after reading the horror stories about the Vivid performance I gave up on them. Apparently, the service was briliant till Optus bought it. Since then, the speed drops to dial up speeds even for people with good steady tower connection. I will stay away from them (at least for now).