While it’s quite common in the retail industry to “buy one get one
free”, did the Telstra board really understand that when they “bought”
Sol Trujillo they would get up to a dozen of his former workmates.

The original “three amigos” – marketing boss Bill Stewart, chief
operating officer Greg Winn and regulatory lame duck Phil Burgess – are
well known Sol workmates but another two senior positions have gone to
former US West/Qwest employees. Were there really no suitable
Australian candidates for these roles?

The company announcement explained the latest hirings as follows:

As we “farewell” these team members, we officially welcome
on board Bill Obermeier and Gloria Farler. Bill, who has been running
his own consultancy in the US, has already made a major contribution to
our new Branding and Strategy exercises. He brings to Telstra his
extensive international experience in developing marketing, brand,
advertising, PR and promotion strategies for clients including
BellSouth, Bell Atlantic, Intelsat, US West and Qwest.

As Managing Director – Brand, Advertising & Sponsorships, Bill’s
direct reports will be Georgie Nichols (General Manager, Media), Lisa
Gardner (General Manager, Sponsorships), Jon Wild (General Manager
Brand and Advertising) and Melanie Reynolds (Manager, Process and
Planning). His appointment is effective 10 April 2006.

Gloria Farler joins Strategic Marketing as Managing Director – Market
Based Management and brings to Telstra more than 20 years international
marketing experience in independent marketing consulting to companies
such as Time Warner, Orange/France Telecom, Bell Canada, Rhythms
Netconnections and US West. Gloria also is an Adjunct Professor at the
University of Denver. Gloria’s team will take Lynette Elliott’s work
forward and will provide customer-focused tools and processes to
facilitate marketing decisions and the implementation of market based
management. She will assume her role on the 18 April 2006.

Then there is Tom Lamming, the highly paid IT consultant who reportedly knocked back the role of chief information officer but is billing Telstra $15,000 a day from his home in Denver.

However, it should be stressed that Sol is not recruiting exclusively
from his personal network and has also really blazed the trail in
finally breaking the glass ceiling at Telstra. Whilst John Stanhope is still hanging in there as chief financial
officer, a replacement is waiting in the wings in Tarek Robbiati, the
deputy CFO who Sol recruited from Europe.

After his old workmate Lamming knocked back the job, Sol recruited
Fiona Balfour from Qantas as chief information officer and Andrea Grant
from Holden was appointed head of HR – a sensible choice given the head
count reductions Telstra is planning aren’t that different from the axe
wielding that recently went down at GMH.

Two other internally promoted woman have also benefited from Sol’s
reign, namely Kate McKenzie, the former regulatory chief who is now
running Telstra Wholesale and Holly Kramer, Ziggy’s old marketing boss
who is now in charge of product management.

Then again, George Trumbull was also well known for promoting women at
AMP but still proved to be the most disastrous American import of all
time. Let’s hope Sol doesn’t finish up in the same category.

Peter Fray

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