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Optus CEO resigns following service outage debacle

The Australian telco's CFO has taken over as interim chief, while outgoing CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin highlighted her session with the Senate.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor
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In perhaps an unsurprising move, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has resigned from her role following a service outage early this month that impacted millions in Australia. 

The announcement comes after Rosmarin had appeared before the Senate on Friday to address the Nov. 8 incident, which left many without access to broadband and mobile services, and brought down payment systems and train services. More than 10 million customers, including 400,000 businesses, were affected by the outage, which was fully restored several hours later. 

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"I had the opportunity to appear before the Senate to expand on the cause of the network outage and how Optus recovered and responded," Rosmarin said in a statement Monday. "Having now had time for some personal reflection, I have come to the decision my resignation is in the best interest of Optus moving forward," she said.

In the statement, Optus said the outgoing CEO had delivered improved financial performance and market share gains. 

Appointed CEO in April 2020, she joined Optus after serving various positions in the banking sector, including Commonwealth Bank. She was listed among the Top 25 Women in Asia Pacific Finance and Top 10 Businesswomen in Australia, and is a Fellow of Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. 

Hired at the start of the global pandemic, Rosmarin exhibited leadership and commitment through a challenging period, said Singtel Group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon. 

"We recognize the need for Optus to regain customer trust and confidence as the team works through the impact and consequences of the recent outage and continues to improve," Yuen said. "Optus' priority is about setting on a path of renewal for the benefit of the community and customers."

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The Australian telco is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singtel. 

CFO Michael Venter has assumed the position of interim CEO while the company begins its "global search" for a new CEO, Optus said. Venter joined the company as its finance chief in 2021 and has 25 years of business experience in Australia and Asia.

A new COO role also has been created, reporting to the interim CEO, and taken on by Peter Kaliaropoulos, who was previously Optus' business managing director. 

"Optus is an integral part of [Singtel Group's] business. We view the events in recent weeks very seriously," Yuen said. "We fully recognize the importance of Optus' role in providing connectivity services to the community and the importance of network resiliency and security. That is a top priority in all markets where our companies operate in."

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Singtel last week refuted reports a system upgrade carried out on its backbone network caused the massive outage. The planned "routine software upgrade" on a router was carried out at Singtel Internet Exchange (STiX), which is one of Optus' international networks that facilitates peering connectivity with global internet networks. 

During the upgrade, data traffic was directed to other points of presence on the STiX network and routed back to customers' networks. It was completed within 20 minutes and customers' routers that were connected to it, including Optus', were up and running, Singtel said. 

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