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The top 4 priorities for the new Telecom boss

26 Apr 2012

When Simon Moutter takes up his new role as Telecom CEO on September 1, he will be leading an organisation facing a huge challenge to retain its position as the country’s largest telco.

The split-off of the Chorus network business, strong competition from challenger businesses in all its market segments, and tougher telco sector regulation are among the pressures the company is facing.

How should Moutter respond if Telecom is to thrive and retain its spot as the country’s largest listed company? Here are the four items we believe should be on the top of his to-do list:

1. Don’t revive the Gattung era

As Telecom CEO, one of Moutter’s biggest strengths – and also potentially one his greatest weaknesses – will be that he has a previous history as a senior executive with the company when Theresa Gattung was in charge. In those days, prior to the arrival of Paul Reynolds, there was a strong perception that Telecom abused its monopolistic position and used legal tactics to protect its patch.

Reynolds has done much to change that perception and improve the company’s public image. Moutter needs to reject any temptations to return to the Telecom practices of the past. The changes under Reynolds, and the demerging of the Chorus business, have fundamentally changed Telecom and its public persona, and now Moutter needs to build on that. 

2. Show innovation and integrate the company’s offerings to customers

At last week’s Tel.Con12 industry conference – before Moutter’s appointment was announced – I asked InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar what advice he would give to Telecom’s new boss. 

Kumar said he saw an opportunity, which Telecom has so far failed to embrace, to provide a more integrated ‘value proposition’ to customers, across multiple devices – TV, mobile and internet. 

As a provider of multiple communications and technology services, there was the opportunity to do more than just providing a single bill to customers, he said.

3. Deliver on cost containment

Moutter has been praised for his success in containing costs during his time in his present role as CEO of Auckland International Airport. That ability was no doubt attractive to the Telecom board, but there is a tricky line to walk between keeping a lid on expenses and maximising the opportunities suggested by Kumar. That is Moutter’s challenge, and the reason the job comes with such a hefty pay package.

4. Retain key staff

Media speculation reached bizarre levels ahead of the appointment announcement, with coverage suggesting, and in once case even stating that Chris Quin, the head of Telecom ICT subsidiary Gen-i, would be handed the job.

Quin is an incredibly capable operator and his time will come. For now, though, Telecom needs to retain its top people, so Moutter needs to make sure key executives like Quin and retail chief Alan Gourdie, who also put his hand up for the role, don’t start looking elsewhere.

What advice would you give the new Telecom CEO? Post your comments below.