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New Telstra CEO: Top 10 most likely

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.

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.

ZDNet.com.au 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
CNET News.com)


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

(Credit: ZDNet.co.uk)


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 ZDNet.com.au 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.