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Promotions happen fast inside NBN Co

NBN Co might have only been properly operating for less than a year, with chief executive Mike Quigley stepping on board as its first employee in late July 2009, but a handful of promotions appear to have already rippled through its ranks.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor

analysis NBN Co might have only been properly operating for less than a year, with chief executive Mike Quigley stepping on board as its first employee in late July 2009, but a handful of promotions appear to have already rippled through its ranks.

Take Scott Ordner, for example. According to his publicly available LinkedIn account, the executive joined NBN Co as a project manager in January 2010 after a distinguished career with a number of other large organisations such as Sydney Water, Vodafone and Optus. Just three months later, in March 2010, it appears Ordner had been promoted to program manager.

It's a similar case with HR specialist David Auld who, according to his LinkedIn profile, joined NBN Co as a HR consultant in August 2009, which would have likely made him one of Quigley's first hires at NBN Co. Auld has a significant corporate pedigree; for five years through the middle of this decade he was Qantas' manager of Remuneration & Programs, and was previously Jetstar's head of People.

Just five months after Auld joined NBN Co, it appears he was promoted to be the company's general manager of Training, Strategy & Internal Communications.

Ordner and Auld appear to be highly focused professionals with a great deal of experience in large organisations (often in the public sector, or former government monopolies like Telstra and Qantas), as well as start-ups or fast-growing companies such as Optus in the late 1990's or early 2000's.

Both have taken the opportunity to get in early on the ground at what is expected to become one of Australia's largest telecommunications companies within a matter of years. And they seem to already be reaping the benefits.

Other examples of NBN Co staff who appear to have been quickly promoted include John Gonzalez, who seems to have joined NBN Co as a service delivery manager on a contract in November 2009 and last month won the position of manager — End User Technology. Former Uecomm/Telstra staffer Glenn Woods joined as a systems architect in January and is now a solution architect.

Well-known industry figure Landry Fevre, who left Vodafone to work in market intelligence/commercial strategy for NBN Co in September 2009, won the NBN Co title of general manager of Media — Commercial Strategy in May 2010.

Peoplebank chief executive Peter Acheson said of the apparent wave of promotions inside NBN Co that it was a phenomenon common to start-ups — the "quick vertical movement" was one of the attractions to working inside new companies.

It was important, Acheson said, that NBN Co make sure that as part of its hiring process that it was bringing in certain personality types that were predisposed to working in a start-up environment — staff who were flexible, adaptable, able to embrace change and deal with fluid situations.

Such people would thrive in the start-up environment and quickly move through the ranks. "It's fairly typical of a start-up and a good sign," he said.

Many of the jobs that NBN Co currently has vacant (the list is available on its website) are for managerial positions, such as a project director of the company's network operations centre and national test facility, which was only announced last week to be located in Melbourne.

But there are also many mid-level roles — for engineering, architectural, analyst positions and so on. NBN Co is planning to host some 425 staff in its Melbourne network operations centre when fully operational, Quigley said last week, with its existing office in Melbourne's CBD to house a further 290. Hundreds more will be located in Sydney, where NBN Co has set up permanent shop with an eight-year lease on a facility in North Sydney with 3000 square metres.

According to Acheson, it could be 18 months to two years before the company structure, culture and headcount started to stabilise. "Let's be honest, this thing's only starting to ramp," he said.

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