Sunday, May 31, 2009

So Long, Sol

Telstra's now-former CEO, Sol Trujillo, has left early. He was due to to finish at the end of June, but he left in May, and left Australia. He proceeded to badmouth Australia in a BBC interview, calling us racist, and being here "like stepping back in time". I wonder how much the BBC had to pay him for the interview. Australia is not racist. It has a small number of people who are, as with every other country. Australians' dislike of Sol Trujillo is not based on race, but his "achievements".

In 4 years as CEO this is his list of achievements:
  • took A$30 million in pay & bonuses

  • took a confrontational, even belligerent, approach to Industrial Relations. He offered his employees dreaded, and dreadful WorkChoices: individual contracts which offered no pay rises for up to 5 years, and a reduction in conditions. He took large increases, and exceedingly generous bonuses

  • Telstra's share price has fallen from just over A$5 to just over A$3. Concerns about the share price slide were expressed by the former Coalition Government as far back as 2006, well before the current Global Financial Crisis.

  • Trujillo brought over two US friends. Phil Burgess was charged with taking on the Australian Government and the ACCC (competition regulator). They lost. Trujillo seems to have thought that privatising a government-owned monopoly must automatically create a private monopoly. To its credit the (then Coalition) Federal Government did not.

  • Under Trujillo's leadership, some reports suggest that the rate of customer complaints against Telstra increased by 240%! ( )

  • Perhaps contributing to the rise in complaints, Telstra's total workforce has fallen from 56000 to 47000 people.

  • Trujillo oversaw Telstra's bid to install Australia's proposed new broadband infrastructure. He knew the bid did not meet tender requirements; and apparently believed that public (government) money should be used to build national infrastructure which would be privately owned and controlled by Telstra, to the detriment of competition. The bid failed; and Trujillo's last failure might well leave Telstra in a poor strategic position.
It is entirely possible that Sol Trujillo's legacy might be as a prime example of "what not to do as CEO/manager". His name might live in corporate training manuals for years.

So long, Sol. You won't be missed, or forgotten.