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Telstra reshuffles executives, acquires eHealth management system

Telstra has seen three internal promotions and one departure among its executives this week, with the telco also acquiring eHealth management company EOS Technologies.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra has announced the appointment of three new group executives, as well as the departure of its Retail group executive Gordon Ballantyne, amid a refocus for the telecommunications provider on "strategic growth".

Karsten Wildberger will be promoted from group managing director of Consumer and acting group managing director of Products to the AU$18 billion portfolio of group executive of Retail; Cynthia Whelan, currently the group managing director of Strategic Finance and acting group executive of International, will be appointed group executive of International and New Businesses; and Joe Pollard will be the new chief marketing officer and group executive of Media, promoted from her present role of group MD of Media and Marketing.

All three will report directly to Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, who said the appointments would help drive the company's agenda for continued strategic growth.

"Karsten, Cynthia, and Joe are outstanding executives who have already made significant contributions to our growth ambitions and will take even larger roles in this new structure. They bring significant international experience prior to joining Telstra," Penn said.

"These positions reflect our commitment to improving consumer and product offers to customers through one laser-focused team, to elevate our media and marketing activities and align them across the business, and our continued focus on growth."

The three appointments follow news on Wednesday that Retail group executive Gordon Ballantyne would be leaving Telstra in December. Ballantyne served as MD of Consumer from 2010 until 2012; as chief customer office until 2013; and then as Retail group executive.

Penn attributed the recent success of Telstra's retail business in fixed-line broadband and mobile products to Ballantyne's work.

"Gordon has been an outstanding group executive and thought leader. His commitment to our people has been instrumental in driving cultural change for our customers, and his capacity to drive growth has been reflected in the performance of the business," Penn said.

"Gordon led the turnaround and growth of our retail business as well as creating exciting new growth ventures such as Telstra Health. He has brought a challenger mindset and a passion for the customer to everything he has done and his leadership will be missed."

Ballantyne, who previously worked for HP, T-Mobile, and Dell, also spearheaded the Telstra Health division, which on Friday announced the acquisition of EOS Technologies, which produced Australia and New Zealand-based healthcare management system ComCare.

EOS Technologies will be amalgamated as part of Telstra's HealthConnex business.

"This acquisition aligns perfectly with our existing community care capabilities, and when combined with our HealthConnex and iCareHealth solutions will allow us to provide the best community care and residential aged care eHealth platform in Australia," said Telstra Health's head of Provider Applications Michael Boyce.

"A key part of this is about delivering better care to Australians as they age ... This trend of directing care away from costly institutions is driving strong demand for solutions that can support community care providers and deliver better health outcomes for clients in their own home. The healthcare landscape is changing as consumers want to incorporate digital health seamlessly into their lifestyle routines and personal style."

Telstra has had a recent focus on supplying and encouraging advanced health solutions. In April, Telstra Health signed a deal to acquire telehealth service Anywhere Healthcare in order to provide access to more than 1,600 GPs and 26 specialists to those located in regional and remote areas.

The health arm of Telstra also acquired UK health analytics company Dr Foster in March. Telstra Health was itself launched in October 2014, with the express purpose of bringing telehealth services to those in remote areas.

"Healthcare at its core is about connectivity. It is about how you can get better information flows going between doctor, GP, specialist, the pharmacist," then-CEO David Thodey said at the time.

Telstra also recently signed a multimillion-dollar three-year contract to exclusively provide telco services to health insurance company Medibank Private.

Telstra flagged its intentions last month to stay ahead of the curve by encouraging technological innovation through collaboration with startups, machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, and the Internet of Things -- but said that ensuring its network continues to be the best in Australia is still at the core of its business, and the driving force behind being able to deliver these capabilities.

Penn added that connectivity is vital for innovation, with the ability to make advancements reliant on the quality of the underlying infrastructure.

He said that Telstra is investing half a billion dollars in its mobile network, and pointed towards the 4GX and Wi-Fi networks being rolled out; the construction of 750 additional mobile base stations and 750 small cells over the next two years; the recent release of a 600Mbps-capable Cat 11 device; and the continual work ongoing on the Australian government's mobile blackspots program, of which Telstra claims to have been given "over 90 percent" to complete.

"Ultimately, the network sits at the core of the innovation," he said.

Telstra's three new group executive appointments are effective immediately, with Ballantyne staying on until December to help with the transition.

"It has been a great privilege to be a part of the leadership team that set out to change the way every Australian talked about this iconic brand. The Telstra of five years ago is almost unrecognisable from the Telstra of today, and I am very proud of what we have created," Ballantyne said.

"I have loved this job and its people. I will forever be a Telstra advocate, but I am also looking forward with excitement to the next challenge."

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