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Telstra woos Chen back for Asia push

Telstra has wooed back former director Tim Chen to be Telstra International's regional president, just one month after his shock departure.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Just one month after his sudden departure from the Telstra board, former non-executive director Tim Chen has returned to Telstra as the company's new international regional president.

Chen joined the Telstra board in a non-executive position in March 2012, and left last month after only being in the role for six months. Telstra had said at the time that Chen had left to take on a CEO position with an unnamed technology company.

But with the existing Regional President Tarek Robbiati leaving to take on the CEO role at financial services company Flexigroup, Telstra seized on the opportunity to lure Chen back to the company to build its presence in Asia. CommsDay reported this morning that it was not planned that Chen would return to Telstra after he had stepped down from the director position.

Chen was born and raised in Taiwan, and Telstra has said that he would be the first Chinese national to hold a CEO leadership role at the company. Chen has previously worked with other telecommunications and tech giants, such as Microsoft, Motorola, and AT&T Bell Laboratories. He was the corporate vice president of Microsoft and regional CEO from 2003 to 2007.

Telstra CEO David Thodey said that Chen's appointment will focus the company's growing presence in Asia.

"We know that having deep insights into the Asian environment across our leadership team is a strategic advantage as we look to strategically grow our regional interests, particularly in network applications and services, and expanding with our pan-Asian customers."

Telstra's Chief Operations Officer Brendon Riley told investors last week that the company's focus on the growing Asian market will target managed network services, unified communications, and cloud services for multinational corporations from Australia and the rest of the world that are looking at moving into the region.

"In some cases, we will be relying on our own presence and existing capabilities; in some cases, we will be looking to forge partnerships in these markets; and we'll also be looking to acquire companies where we think it can build on critical core capabilities," he said.

"We're going to be exporting out a lot of our great talent and base capabilities from Australia in Asia, and we want to be able to leverage the capabilities that we build in Asia for Asia, and back to Australia."

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