​Telstra's Muru-D scores Salesforce Foundation exec as new lead

Julie Trell joins Muru-D as co-founder Annie Parker moves on.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Telstra has appointed a new lead to its startup accelerator Muru-D, after co-founder Annie Parker announced she would be exiting the telco giant.

Superseding Parker is Julie Trell, who will move to Sydney from San Francisco to lead the organisation from March 14, 2017.

Trell comes to the role with a background spanning both startup and corporate environments, which includes a 12-year stint as the founding member of the Salesforce.com Foundation.

She also served as the San Francisco lead of the SheEO initiative, which aims to support female entrepreneurs.

Trell leaves her most recent role as the founder and chief life officer of community collaboration organisation Playful Purpose.

Having played a significant role as a startup advisor throughout her career, Telstra's acting chief technology officer Philip Jones said Trell's diversity of experience and leadership in the startup space made her an outstanding fit for the role.

"Julie is excited to get started at Telstra, to get involved at Muru-D and help take the program to the next level and through that work continue building the startup ecosystem both in Australia and globally," Jones said.

"I cannot wait to see the positive influence and inspiration Julie will have within Muru-D, the wider startup ecosystem, and across Telstra as a whole."

In a statement, Trell said she was excited to work with Telstra and its emerging family of startups as she hopes to help create a uniquely Australasian entrepreneurial culture for what she called the digital age.

"Companies like Telstra realise that a new generation of workers want real social impact and strong values to be a part of daily life in how and where they work," she said.

Muru-D was launched in October 2013 to provide workspace, funding, and advice for promising startups in return for equity.

According to Parker, the genesis of the accelerator came after Telstra decided it wanted to be a global technology company, with the telco giant unsure who, what, and where to invest in.

"If we want to become a global technology company, how do we do that, what do we need to invest in, what are the trends happening in the global ecosystem," she said previously. "This led to the creation of the Telstra Software Group, of which the president is also the co-founder of Muru-D alongside me, Charlotte Yarkoni."

Telstra's former CEO David Thodey was integral to the creation of Muru-D and said recently that the intention behind the startup incubator was to drive change internally.

"People think we were trying to find the next great new thing; it wasn't, it was all about the cultural change," Thodey said. "We got young, entrepreneurial startups coming in with great ideas -- we'd put our engineers with them, and next thing we knew we had great ideas everywhere -- so it was more cultural."

Telstra announced the appointment of Robyn Denholm as new chief operating officer in December, who joined the telco after a nine-year stint as Juniper Networks chief financial and operations officer, and 11 years with Sun Microsystems before that. Denholm is also a board member of Tesla and Swiss robotics company ABB.

Denholm took over COO responsibilities from Telstra group executive global enterprises and services Brendon Riley, who had been filling the role on an interim basis following the retirement of COO Kate McKenzie in July.

Last year also saw the resignation of CIO Erez Yarkoni, the departure of CTO Vish Nandlall amid reports of CV fraud, and former chief information security officer Mike Burgess exit the company.

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