New Telstra CEO: Top 10 most likely

New Telstra CEO: Top 10 most likely

Summary: We scoured the world to find the best and have detailed the top 10 candidates we consider most likely to succeed Sol Trujillo as the chief executive of Telstra.

TOPICS: Telcos, Telstra

commentary With Sol Trujillo reportedly on his way out, speculation is running wild as to who the board will employ to lead the telco for the next phase. has conducted an international search, scouring the executive teams of telecommunications companies around the world for the right replacement. We've formed a shortlist of the 10 most likely candidates.

The executives who made it onto the short list were of a good age (not too old or too young), had relevant qualifications and experience, taking into account Telstra's new passion for mobile and the dominance of its consumer segment.

Those who had progressed to CEO spots in larger companies than Telstra were mostly ruled out. Australian and New Zealand experience was taken into account, but wasn't considered as a make or break factor. This list is in alphabetical order.

Håkan Dahlström

Håkan Dahlström

(Credit: TeliaSonera)

Age: 46
Current position: president of business area broadband services at Sweden's TeliaSonera
Work history: Dahlström joined Telia in 1998 and has held a number of management roles in the group, including head of mobility services and head of corporate networks and technology. Previously, he was a navy officer working on the procurement of ICT systems for the Swedish Armed Forces.
Qualifications: Master of Engineering in Computer Science from Linköping University in Sweden and a Master of Science in Digital Technology from Heriot Watt University in Scotland.

Sally Davis

Sally Davis

(Credit: British Telecom)

Age: 54
Current position: CEO Wholesale at British Telecom
Work history: Sally Davis moved to be chief executive of BT Wholesale in 2007 after being chief portfolio officer. She has also been president, BT Global Products. Before BT, she took NYNEX to IPO in the UK and headed up its strategy division after it merged with Bell Atlantic. She also worked as managing director of Cable London where she had been since its nascent. Her career began at Mercury Communications.
Qualifications: she is an English graduate and a Fellow of University College London.

Ralph de la Vega

Ralph de la Vega

(Credit: AT&T)

Age: 56
Current position: president and CEO of AT&T mobility
Working history: appointed to his current role in October 2007, de la Vega also held roles in regional telecommunications and entertainment and worked as COO of Cingular wireless. He was president of BellSouth Latin America, preceded by a position as president of broadband and internet solutions in the same company.
Qualifications: he holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University, a Masters of Business Administration from Northern Illinois University, and he has completed the Executive Program at the University of Virginia.

Paul Donovan

Dr Paul Donovan

(Credit: China Mobile)

Age: 49
Current position: unknown
Working history: Donovan was most recently Vodafone's CEO for Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Affiliates. He finished in January of this year, deciding to leave after a management reshuffle. Previously, Donovan held other CEO positions including Vodafone Ireland. He has held senior roles at BT, One2One and Apple, as well as being chief commercial officer at Optus Communications. Donovan has also had experience in fast moving consumer goods marketing and sales in Mars, Coca Cola and Schweppes. Donovan is a non-executive director for China Mobile.
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts in Scandinavian Studies from University College London and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Bradford University Management Centre.

Robert Dotson

Robert Dotson

(Credit: Stephen Shankland

Age: 47
Current position: CEO T-Mobile USA
Work history Dotson joined T-Mobile in 1996 as VP marketing, launching an award-winning advertising campaign and working up to lead the marketing, sales and business operations. In 2001, Dotson became COO of T-Mobile USA and became a president of the company in 2002. Prior to joining T-Mobile, Dotson worked for seven years in senior marketing positions inside PepsiCo's restaurant division.
Qualifications: Dotson holds an MBA from Northwestern University.

Jim Marsh

Jim Marsh


Age: unknown
Current position: CEO Cable and Wireless Europe, Asia and the US
Working history: Marsh joined Cable and Wireless via its acquisition of Energis Communications where he was director of retail. Before Energis he spent time as COO at KPMG Consulting. He has also held the role of head of strategic planning at Boots the Chemists.
Qualifications: Jim is a qualified chartered accountant specialising in corporate finance and recovery.

David Moffatt

David Moffatt

(Credit: Telstra)

Age: unknown
Current position: Telstra group managing director consumer marketing and channels
Working history: David Moffatt has been in his current role since 2003. Prior to that he held the roles of CFO and group managing director finance and administration. He moved to Telstra from heading up General Electric Australia and New Zealand, having risen from CEO General Electric Capital Australia and New Zealand. Before joining General Electric, David held leadership roles with Palmer Tube Mills, Citibank and Bain & Company.
Qualifications: He is a graduate of the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Business (Management).

Gavin Patterson

Gavin Patterson

(Credit: British Telecom)

Age: 41
Current position: CEO Retail of British Telecom
Working history: he joined BT in January 2004 as managing director of the consumer division within BT Retail. He rose to the chief executive position in June last year. Before joining BT, he climbed to be managing director of the consumer division of Telewest, which succeeded a role as the European marketing director for Pantene at Proctor and Gamble.
Qualifications: Gavin gained an Engineering degree at Emmanuel College in Cambridge.

James Patterson:

James Patterson

(Credit: Sprint Nextel)

Age: unknown
Current position: president Wholesale Services Sprint Nextel
Working history: James began his current position in March 2008. Before that he operated as interim president for the Cable Joint Venture established among Sprint and four major cable companies, which followed a stint as vice president cable solutions, where he expanded Sprint's VoIP presence. His 14-year Sprint tenure included other leadership roles. Before joining Sprint, he worked at former Anderson Consulting designing, installing and maintaining operating system for the financial services industry.
Qualifications: he holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Davidson College, an MBA from the University of Virginia, and he has studied British literature and economic history at Cambridge University.

Karen Radford

Karen Radford

(Credit: Telus)

Age: 39
Current position: executive VP and president, TELUS Québec and TELUS Partner Solutions
Work history: Karen now leads a team serving business consumer and wireless customers in Quebec as well as providing wholesale and carrier services to telco providers. This role has followed various senior positions. She began her career at NBTel.
Qualifications: Karen received a Masters of Business Administration from Dalhousie University in 1991 and a Bachelor of Science from Mount Allison University in 1989.

Down in the pack

Other executives which considered, but who didn't make it into the shortlist were Telstra business group managing director Deena Shiff; Vodafone Australia CEO Russell Hewitt, who if the merger with Hutchison Australia goes through will be handing the running of day-to-day operations of the merged entity to 3 CEO Nigel Dews; Virgin Mobile USA CEO Dan Schulman, who has years of experience in AT&T as well as in building up an internet brand; or Kim Williams, Foxtel CEO, who would help continue Telstra's media trend.

The dark horse

Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan is clearly the dark horse for the job. Although it seems the right time for him to move, it is unlikely he would follow in the steps of former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski and change sides to Optus' main rival.

Topics: Telcos, Telstra

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Wake up Australia.

    The ideal outcome would be for Sol to apply for Australian citizenship and decide to remain as Telstra CEO for the long term.

    If, as expected, after many years away from home, Sol decides that after the successful transformation of Telstra he will return to the United States, it may be time for an Australian Chief Executive Officer for Telstra.

    How sad it would be if an Australian Government was to allow the vital communication systems of Australia to fall under the control of foreigners, and to pay them $4.7 billion of taxpayer money to do so.
  • Sydney's an Idiot

    Sol's spent a total of about 40 days in Australia this past year, so him going just saves us a lot of money. The transformation's not done - Next G is fine; but the IT Transformation is $2B and counting and the customer service is still appalling. They need someone who defines transformation as getting great outcomes instead of just spending lots of money
  • re Sydney's an Idiot

    So who do you suggest, seeing you know so much about Sol and his daily whereabouts. Someone who sits at there desk all day perhaps. C'mon give us your recommendations.
  • Who is the idiot here.

    I may be an idiot but I am not so mentally challenged to think that a company CEO must be chained to his desk to produced excellent results.

    Anonymous should realize ( and I am sure he,or she would, if they allowed their thinking to come out of the dark ages) that modern communication allows people to operate from any part of the world.

    Sol is always in command of the latest information worldwide and in personal contact with leaders in communications which allows him to proceed Telstra to a world leading MediaCom company.

    Again we see criticism from mindless morons who seek to disparage Telstra in the hope it assists self interest and their company situation who find it impossible to challenge Telstra through honest competition.
  • At least Sydney has ethics.

    Sydney Lawrence, I have been having a running battle with two guys here.

    One is for and the other against Telstra. But I have argued with them because of their disparaging replies to anyone who disagrees with them, not because of their opinions.

    I'm telling you this because, although I don't necessarily agree or disagree with you in general, unlike these two and me (I'll admit it), you normally comment to others with respect, regardless of what they have said to you.

    I have even seen you, when pushed past the limit, realise that you have been disrespectful and apologise to people who have been equally disrespectful to you.

    Just thought I'd let you know, because it would be hypocritical of me to criticise some because of their approaches and not give credit to others like you, when due.

    In the face of the constant criticism you receive, you are a rare breed Sydney and I respect you for it.
  • Survival is eternal vigilance.

    Thank you Jason you are so kind. But really I am simply a proud Australian whose father, though badly wounded in the Great War struggled to raise a family and instill the pride that we should all have in our great country.

    Australians are in danger of losing, and in the case of the NBN, paying other countries to take control of vital Australian infrustructure that will be to to detrement of our children and grandchildren.

    As Australia's mining companies are being purchased and controlled by others it is indeed possible that in future years, Australians will be the workers, without influence, in their own country.
  • -

    I strongly disagree. I think bringing in Sol in the first place was a very bad move. Sol might be a strong capable CEO but Telstra needs more than capable right now, and they don't necessarily need a CEO that comes across as 'tough'. The Australian public is not only unhappy with Telstra, they are scared of it. Sol was never the right guy to break that image.

    I think they need to go with a CEO that can get the job done and at the same time make the Australian public believe their concerns are being heard (and probably their whining too). The comment below about Sol only spending 40 days in Australia the past year, whether they are true or not, is representative of the image Sol conveys to the Australian public. A good CEO might not live slaving away behind their desk, but they will give Australia faith that they are.
  • Re: Wake up Australia

    The ideal outcome, irrespective of who the CEO might be, is for Telstra to regain its image as a service company.
    At the moment, service is the main thing lacking from all of their offerings.
    We are all used to seeing stories of poor customer service and late installations/repairs. Similarly, we have seen reported on many occasions the very public arguments by Telstra against the legislated service commitments that they are bound to.
    If this could be turned around then maybe the public would regain faith in the company.
  • Back to front

    "But really I am simply a proud Australian"

    I'm confused, Sol stands for everything that is not Australian. Hard line Americanised business ethics that do zero for staff Morale - and with drop is shares, looks like the same for shareholders.

    "that modern communication allows people to operate from any part of the world"

    Again I am confused. This is 100% true, so why would Sol need to leave the country at all?

    As a past employee of Telstra, I can tell you Sydney that you're head is always on the chopping block, and shareholder wealth is paramount above employee satisfaction - and also customer satisfaction.

    Your Ideologies seem so far removed from the Facts - that Sol has contributed to the perception of Telstra - A bully.

    As a proud Australian myself, I get frustrated with your one-eyed hypocritical views, Australia is about Acceptance. It is time (well past that time) that we moved - and I think forcibly - people that have stopped this country from moving forward. As Australian working in IT, we need to bring a return to traditional Australian values - not some profit driven scare-monger - to plan, deploy and maintain an NBN within Australia for Australians.

    If we need someone from overseas such as the above to deliver this - then so be it.
  • Thank you for your wisdom, anonymous troll

    It's commonly known as credit where credit is due and you obviously, do not deserve credit. Simple.

    But my, I must have burnt you bad, as you are compelled to follow me around taking little anonymous, vengeful and childish pot shots wherever I go, rofl.

    Please keep 'em coming by corresponding with hypocritical disrespectful comment ................ now.
  • Look to Australia

    The problem is the last 3 CEO have been yanks. It's about time we have an Australian leading Tesltra. Need a strong leader that will not work for four years and scoot to evade tax laws and make mint selling the stock before they leave. Right now to keep this country going forward wholesale and retail need to be separated. Or the next CEO will waist share holders funds and tax dollars arguing every protocol with the ACCC. Think of the millions that could have been spent on doing fibre not to nodes but to the homes.
    Time for an Australian to step up!
  • Interesting how many Ozzies

    I find it interesting that the last thing I read was that Sol was looking around to replace himself with an Australian. If so it would be the only decent thing the guy did whilst here. Get out & let us pick the CEO Sol. Go Home, NOW!

    Mind you I think there's one person in amongst this group of possibles who actually come from Oz, maybe 2. What a joke!
  • Dear Jason, Bullcrap

    I, personally have been on the end of Sydney's vast vocabulary as he has on mine. Yes I admit to dropping the pees & ques & swinging regularly but Sydney is out there whenever he can, especially when he goes anonymous. The trouble here is Jason that you're a newbie on this channel. Maybe not brand new but Sydney & I have been going at it for a fair while now. Don't kid yourself, Sydney's swung a fair number of low blows himself.

    He also has never ever backed up his support of the goose Sol. Go on Sydney, find some proof. We've shown you heaps over the year.
  • Vengeance is mine, said the Lord.

    Rex Alfie, your prayers have been answered with the announcement that Sol has decided that his transformation of Telstra is on track and Team Telstra capable to expertly and fully continue the Telstra success story.

    Rex I mean no insult but was wondering if you will continue your rather over the top attacks on Telstra or the departure of Sol will allow your hostile attitude to modify?
  • @ Look to Australia

    The guy that headed One Tel is looking for a job. Give him a call, why don't you. Some people think Sol did a reasonable, albeit difficult job. At least what he did was legal and above board, which is more than can be said for a lot of Australian CEO's.
  • Give him a break (pssst he's not the full quid)

    Don't worry about the anonymous troll, anon. I am obviously his hero, rofl.

    This pizzle is hurt badly and really it would be hard even for someone with full mental capacity to recover from the home truths, he endured at my hands.

    But him having obvious mental inadequacies means that he will probably never recover and will be here everyday making these stupid jibes forever more. Or until he's again locked away in that safe place, in the lovely white jacket with all the pretty buckles. Or of course, advances in medicine are such that those unfortunates such as him, can actually successfully function and perform in the real world with real people.

    Until then, his insecurities, non existent intelligence and all round idiocy, means we are stuck with him.

    But on the bright side, at least he is 'always good for a laugh'!
  • New Telstra CEO

    Please can we consider giving the role that brings Australian families together to an Australian.

    All the candiates may be credible but will they just come and see this as another stint? Torn between here and their families in USA and Europe.

    And have any of these done a good job to justify not giving the job to an Australian. BT is broken, Cable & Wireless has lost so much market share, Vodafone riddled with debt, AT&T and Sprint don't need to mention. Woeful.

    Give the Job to an Australian who knows our customers and is passionate about our country and our jobs.
  • New Telstra CEO

    It is a shame that this discussion appears to have degenerated into a slanging match rather than a debate about the core issues.

    I worked for PMG and Telecom during the first half of my career. If I recall correctly our primary goal was to have a telephone in 9 out of 10 homes by 1975 or something like that.

    Almost 40 years later, after having spent the second half of my career working for large global corporations, I have semi-retired and am running my own small business about 45 kms to the North West of Melbourne.

    I can’t get ADSL or any other form of fixed wire broadband to help me connect my business to the world. I am totally dependent on a wireless broadband service that is not only incredibly expensive but limited in terms of the service I need. I actually get better broadband connections from hotels in third world countries when I travel than I do here 45km from Australia’s second largest city.

    I am also a Telstra shareholder. Enough said.

    So was Sol successful?

    From day one he and his mates, including the arrogant and bullying Phil Burgess, adopted the approach that they were going to sort out the Australian telecommunications market. Burgess even believed he was going to sort out Australian society and I recall attending a dinner at a well known civil society organisation where as a guest he lambasted Australian civil society, tearing strips off anyone who dared to suggest he might not have yet come to terms with Australian society.

    If Sol and his cronies had spent half as much time understanding Australia and the Australian telecommunications environment as they did confronting the Government and the ACCC perhaps the last few years would not have been such a wasted opportunity for Telstra. As it is the service delivered by the company has fallen further behind international standards, the share price is hardly brilliant and the rift between Telstra, the Government and regulatory authorities is even wider.

    I have but two wishes relating to Telstra at present.
    1. that we don’t provide Sol with some ridiculous golden parachute. Telstra’s performance over the last few years, and my return on investment, suggest he doesn’t deserve it (I would have advised my mother-in-law to invest in Telstra a few years ago, but not now)
    2. that the Board now has the sense to appoint an Australian that understands our environment to head up the company not some other arrogant upstart from overseas