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Telstra chair Catherine Livingstone steps down

Telstra's long-serving chair is being replaced by John Mullen ahead of taking up her role as UTS chancellor.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Catherine Livingstone has stepped down from Telstra in her role as chairman of directors, held since May 2009, on Wednesday after announcing her resignation in February.

Livingstone, president of the Business Council of Australia, also served at Telstra as a non-executive director since November 2000, chairman of the Nomination Committee, and a member of the Audit and Risk Committee and the Remuneration Committee.

The telecommunications provider announced that John Mullen has been appointed as chairman of directors and chairman of the Nomination Committee in her stead. Mullen, CEO and MD of railway freight and shipping logistics company Asciano, has served as a non-executive director for Telstra since July 2008.

Livingstone was at the end of last year elected as the next University of Technology Sydney (UTS) chancellor, commencing in December 2016, in order to bring a particular focus on research and development (R&D) and innovation to the university.

"Our prime minister rightly says that change is opportunity. I believe Australia will only seize the opportunity presented by the unprecedented change currently sweeping the world, if its university and industry sectors can be far more effective collaborators," Livingstone said upon being appointed as UTS chancellor.

"This is a responsibility of both business and university, and will require a shift in mindset by both. This shift is already happening at UTS, and among their many partners in the Ultimo creative and startup precinct. I am excited to be a part of that."

Livingstone was reportedly called upon by the Archbishop of Sydney to explain Telstra's stance on supporting same-sex marriage, having then come to an agreement with the Archbishop that the telco would end its public advocacy. Telstra subsequently backflipped to take an "active" role in affirming its support for marriage equality after experiencing public backlash.

In replacing Livingstone's roles, Telstra has also announced the appointment of Peter Hearl as chairman of the Remuneration Committee; Russell Higgins as a member of the Remuneration Committee; Chin Hu Lim as a member of the Nomination Committee; and Craig Dunn as a member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Dunn, the Australian government Fintech Advisory Group chairman, was appointed to the Telstra board as non-executive director earlier in April.

Telstra also recently announced the appointment of two new members of its executive team: Ex-Optus country chief officer and consumer CEO Kevin Russell, and ex-Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

Russell will become group executive of Telstra Retail, making him head of the telecommunications provider's business, consumer, product, and stores business.

The addition of Elop to the Telstra team sees the creation of a new role: Group executive of Technology, Innovation, and Strategy. Telstra noted that Elop will be responsible for leading the telco's "strategy to become a world-class technology company", based out of both Australia and the United States.

Elop has previously worked as president of the Microsoft Business Division and COO of Juniper, before becoming CEO of Nokia until Microsoft purchased Nokia's Mobile segment for $7.2 billion in 2013.

The new "innovation" business will combine the CTO, chief scientist, Software Group, and Corporate Strategy under one umbrella, with Elop saying he welcomed the opportunity to work for such an "innovative" company.

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