David Moffatt will be Telstra CEO

David Moffatt will be Telstra CEO

Summary: There is no single candidate right now better suited to succeed Sol Trujillo as Telstra chief executive than the telco's current consumer marketing and channels chief David Moffatt.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Telstra
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commentary There is no single candidate right now better suited to succeed Sol Trujillo as Telstra chief executive than the telco's current consumer marketing and channels chief David Moffatt.

I'm so confident the telco's chairman Donald McGauchie and the rest of the board will recognise this fact and hand him the job when Sol leaves, that I've put my money where my mouth is and wagered the princely sum of $5 on the outcome with ZDNet.com.au telco reporter Suzanne Tindal.

I'll let Suzanne back her own horse in a separate article (she'll lose).

Moffatt (pictured, image credit from Telstra) won my vote for several reasons. Firstly, I agree with David Braue's argument that Telstra is likely to continue down the ambitious, necessary and relatively successful long-term path that Trujillo sent it on when he stepped on deck back in mid-2005.

Trujillo was a king-hit level international telco executive brought in to rejuvenate a Telstra that needed to shift onto a commercial footing (finally) after a long and uncertain period of being a quasi-government entity.

The telco needs a calmer and more Australian head that can execute on Trujillo's vision while warming Telstra's icy corporate heart.

As David mentions, so much changed under Trujillo's watch that the company doesn't need another visionary of his level (with all the American-style arrogance that came in the package and so annoyed the Australian public).

Instead, it needs a calmer and more Australian head that can execute on Trujillo's vision while warming Telstra's icy corporate heart.

Given Telstra's ignomious departure from Stephen Conroy's NBN tender process, that executive will necessarily need to focus on what has long been dubbed the telco's "Plan B": the ongoing upgrade of its Next G mobile network, IP core and strategic wired assets such as the HFC cable network.

Its detractors might not agree, but the construction of Telstra's Next G network was a stunning technical endeavour that gave the company a massive boost in the mobile war; a war that most of the rest of Australia's telco industry is only now starting to realise it is losing badly. (The pending merger of Hutchison and Vodafone is the most visible indicator of Telstra's success in this area.)

In this context there is no better candidate to take over Telstra as a whole than Moffatt, the man Trujillo tasked with overseeing the provision of services on the Next G network to consumers. Of course, Moffatt also manages the provision of broadband, fixed line and entertainment services to Australia's great masses.

Are you starting to get a picture for just how much of Telstra's revenue he is already responsible for?

But wait, there's more.

Moffatt is also Telstra's former chief financial officer and group managing director, finance and administration, a position he took up after being CEO at the Australia and New Zealand division of General Electric. He's also held roles with other large companies like Citibank and (get ready to tick one more box off, McGauchie) management consultancy Bain.

And to cap it off, Moffatt's been overseeing the rejuvenation of Telstra's retail strategy; which appears to have been drawn straight from the brain of Steve Jobs (the most visible example of this can be seen on George St, Sydney, where Telstra's ritzy T[life] store sits directly opposite Apple's flagship monolith.

Moffatt was reportedly seen as a strong contender to replace Trujillo's predecessor Switkowski

It's possible to make the argument that some of Moffatt's colleagues (for example business chiefs Deena Shiff and David Thodey or CFO John Stanhope) have similar qualifications, and they do, at least on paper. But in person they lack the leadership potential and human touch that Moffatt alone amongst Telstra's senior ranks seems to possess (in some measure).

Wholesale chief Kate McKenzie probably has the personality to do the job — but her public sector background is her biggest weakness and will likely rule her out for the hot seat.

There is also Moffatt's form with Trujillo and his ongoing dance with the CEO role, which started when Trujillo's predecessor Ziggy Switkowski was dumped back in December 2004. Moffatt was reportedly seen as a strong contender to replace Switkowski, although I suspect a lack of senior telco experience compared to his rivals let him down at the time.

When Trujillo stepped on board, The Australian reported that he quickly put Moffatt through some fairly stern paces, including a notice that he could lose his consumer chief role unless he met targets. I can testify that Moffatt and a number of other Australian Telstra leaders appeared a little more shaky than normal when presenting in public at the time; not hard to understand since the ground had clearly been cut away from under their feet.

However, Moffatt must have earned some board kudos for sticking with his lot and dramatically deepening his telco experience; we can assume, since he's still around, that he met most of Trujillo's targets.

The picture this all paints should be clear: unlike the last time around, Moffatt clearly has the experience and gravitas to step into Trujillo's shoes; and undoubtedly the effort of holding his ambitions down under Trujillo will have given him ample energy and patience to deliver results on a bigger scale.

Who are you betting on to succeed Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo? Got any inside info? Drop us a line confidentially or post your comments below this article.

Topics: Telcos, Telstra

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24 comments
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  • Unfortunately...

    Unfortunately I think you're right. I truly hope David Thodey gets it, but he doesnt come across with enough of a grab 'em by the balls attitude. Having seen Moffatt's dealing with the employee collective agreement stuff, I wouldn't expect too much "warming of Telstra's icy corporate heart" from him either.
    anonymous
  • Moffatt Sure hope not

    He thought he was going to get the job after Ziggy left. He is not well liked or highly regarded amongst employees and many industry players think he is a lightweight, and that just about sums him up. Telstra needs a true maverick, an outside the box person who will inspire and heal the conflicts with employees, who will deal calmly and rationally with regulators and play within the rules. Who will bring some original ideas and source talent locally. Who will be prepared to clean out the dead wood in management, especially HR who are a law unto themselves. That is not Moffatt he doesn't have the guts.
    anonymous
  • David Moffatt

    Would you want David Moffatt in the trenches with you? Cool, calm, collected and Australian. We produce the best soldiers, David Moffatt is one of them.
    anonymous
  • Moffatt or Quilty?

    I would not mind either seeing Moffatt or Public Policy GMD Quilty take the rains - both of these people have very strong views of where Telstra stands.
    anonymous
  • Interesting Times.

    As I don't know Mr. Moffatt I could not comment on his suitability for the position of Telstra CEO but Mr. Quilty was impressive addressing the National Press Club earlier this week.
    anonymous
  • Lee

    They are all the same. Its already a ballsup with Siebel and three more call centres are being closed - Eldorado (Perth), Bendigo, Brisbane and Gold Coast. That is news through the system as of 4pm today.

    The Titantic has already hit the iceberg and the head honcho is jumping ship.
    anonymous
  • NOOOOOOOOOO

    A TRAINED TRUJILLO CLONE! PLEASE NO! THESE CLONES SHOULD BE ON THE EXTERNAL JOB HUNT! ACCORDING TO THEM MR TRUJILLO IS ALWAYS RIGHT AS I HAVE NOT ON PUBLIC RECORD HEARD ONE EXECUTIVE DARE TO CHALLENGE THE MAN WHO THOUGHT HE WAS MADE OUT OF STEEL!
    anonymous
  • @Lee

    No mystery as to who sent this in, his DNA is all over it, but who cares ! If JC himself was made CEO of Telstra, this clown would still complain.
    anonymous
  • Sack Them All!

    Hell, the whole board needs to be replaced! The only way for this country to have any fair competition and for a decent competitive broadband network in the future is for Telstra to be separated. It should have been done before it was privatised.
    anonymous
  • WAY TO GO AUSTRALIA.

    Sack them all. Yeah sure but lets go all the way.

    Lets forget the 1,600,000 Aussie Telstra owners, the 35,000 Aussie Telstra employees, all those whose superannuation has investments in Telstra, every Australian man, wiman and child who own the billion of shares held in the Future Fund. Let foreigners cut Telstra up and claim ownership.

    While we're at it lets give away our manufacturing capability and buy everything from China. Then lets sell our mineral mines to China so we can work in them as navies for peanuts. Also lets give our wealth away and go 60 billion dollars into deficit. Sound familar.
    anonymous
  • Wait and watch.

    Also, don't want to frighten you but once China decide that our manufacturing industry is non existent you will see them start to push the price of their "cheap" exports up and a bad situation will develop in Australia.
    anonymous
  • re NOOOOOOOOOO

    The upper case on you PC seems to be stuck in the same groove as your logic. Out of key ! Or are you simply trying to be a loudmouthed critic.
    anonymous
  • @Anon

    Actually no you are off base on this one. I am just a call centre lackee who has to clean up the mess that bigwigs leave behind.
    anonymous
  • @ Anon

    Sorry mate, I thought it was that serial goon who's name starts with a J.
    anonymous
  • Anyone but Moffatt

    I sincerely hope that a massive cleanout now takes place and anyone with the Trujillo taint goes immediately. This includes Moffatt, McGauchie, all of the HR idiots. I wonder how Grant will fare now her 'mentor' has gone. Telstra needs a complete change of direction. The mob that are left will not do this. Please, please do not put Moffatt in the top job the employees loathe him.
    anonymous
  • Buy Australian owned and made.

    Anyone but Moffat (Anon). Just what I would expect from a person who makes such comment yet is too gutless to reveal their identity.

    We know that there are those who seek to damage Telstra to advantage themselves, and this could be achieved if the advantage that Telstra has achieved under the guidance of Sol.

    The thinking within Telstra has been changed forever, from a weak kneed, forlock touching Government dominated subservant company to a world leading MediaComms company of which all Australians can be proud.

    I look forward to future Management of Telstra maintaining the standard of progressing Telstra and making sure the Australian flag flies high.
    anonymous
  • Disagree

    Both these people strongly hold Sol's views, they don't have any of their own. That's the problem with Telstra today, the only management left are all "Yes" men (not the optus variety!) Thodey, Moffatt, Quilty etc. Next someone will be calling for Rocco...
    anonymous
  • Quitly at the Press club..

    Glad someone mentioned this. Quilty read his prepared (Sol's) marketing line and mostly sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Being generous, I'd score him about 54% as a telco generalist, not CEO material.
    I did wander what he thought was so trivial about the USO, (lifeline services?) but no-one asked about such a fundamental issue, did they. Where were the journos at this press club? Don't they have any journos who know the first thing about telecoms? Or were they simply not allowed to ask questions?
    anonymous
  • and your point is?

    First, the future fund benefits commonwealth public servants only. The 1.6 million Australian shareholders is incorrect. The share value is so low that I'd be pissed off if my fund had T shares (thankfully they dont)
    The foreigners (3Amigos) have already cut the life out of Telstra - wait till the transformation bills start to come in next year - Cisco overpriced IP core, IT transformation, billing, service outsource model etc When the real balance sheet comes to life watch the shares freefall.
    Australia hasn't manufactured anything significant for years and China and Japan already "own" our natural resources (who controls the prices controls the commodity)
    As a country, we have diluted our wealth since the 70's. Our wealth is based upon nothing tangible (real estate prices?) there is no substance in this economy because it was easier to create cash from nothing (margin loans and derivates) and buy real things from asia.
    anonymous
  • Any bet against Suzanne is sure to win

    If you want to pick a reporter that desn't have a clue it would be her. If David Braue(nless) stopped pretending to be a blogger and tried to pretend he was a reporter he would be probably win the clueless battle.

    On the actual article it is well written and is spot on the money. It's time a person who has seen the ups and downs from the inside takes hold of the wheel.

    This would shut the nay-sayers right up as he is Australian, will not be taking a short term view of things and as he is a current employee his salary will be an increase relative to what he earns today.
    anonymous