Telstra brings on two telco heavyweights to exec team

New recruits will oversee a newly created technology, innovation and strategy portfolio, as well as retail business

Kevin Russell joins Telstra's leadership ranks
Kevin Russell joins Telstra's leadership ranks

Telstra has added two telco heavyweights to its executive ranks across retail and technology, innovation and strategy.

Stephen Elop, the former CEO of Nokia from September 2010 to September 2013, joins the ASX-listed telco giant in the newly created role of group executive technology, innovation and strategy. He is tasked with leading Telstra’s strategy to become a world-class technology company and reports directly to CEO, Andrew Penn. The role sees him based jointly in the US and Australia.

The role encompasses the chief technology officer, chief scientist, Telstra Software Group and corporate strategy and has direct links into product development functions.

As well as his stint running Nokia, Elop’s heritage includes executive roles with Microsoft, Juniper, Adobe and Macromedia. He starts at Telstra on 4 April.

“Stephen will immediately add major firepower to our team with his extensive and deep technology experience and an innate sense of customer expectations,” Penn said. “He is a recognised international technology leader and strategist from across a range of global organisations.”

Telstra has also appointed Kevin former SingTel Optus country chief officer and CEO of consumer for Australia, Kevin Russell, as group executive for Telstra Retail. He replaces Dr Karsten Wildberger, who quit the post in December after just three months in the role and officially finished up on 31 March.

Russell has a long history in the telco space. Alongside the three years with SingTel Optus from 2012 to 2014, he was formerly chief operating officer then CEO of Hutchison Three UK, rising to the role after being the CEO for Hutchison Telecoms Australia, where we oversaw the launch of the 3 brand and mobile services in 2003.

At present, Russell is CEO for a Silicon Valley-based technology startup and will join Telstra in late April.

“Kevin has an impressive track record working for several of the world’s largest telcos in a range of demanding markets,” Penn said. “He has passionately worked to build customer experiences in new and existing major consumer brands and service business clients. He has managed major programs across national fixed and mobile networks and is well regarded in the local technology community.”

Russell said Telstra’s commitment to improving customer services and being customer centric, and to simplifying and strengthening its core business were key to his decision to sign up.

More broadly, the market transition to the National Broadband Network and accelerating technology innovation presents growth opportunities and changing competitive dynamics requiring nimble execution,” he commented in a statement.

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