November 10, 2015

mckenzie150pxby Kate McKenzie, Chief Operations Officer, Telstra and GTWN President for Australia

What a busy start to the year it has been! I am pleased to say that 2014 was a very successful year, both domestically and internationally for Telstra. My colleagues and I have continued to address the challenges of promoting an innovation-led culture change, while also adjusting our business to the changing realities of the Australian and Asia-Pacific marketplace – both issues that we will continue to address in the year(s) ahead.

By an innovation-led culture change, I mean that we are promoting an innovation mind-set as a key driver of Telstra’s business strategy. We know that real innovation will require us to leverage the diversity of experience, skills and perspectives of all of our people. We are doing this through a number of initiatives led by the Chief Technology Office (CTO) in my Operations team.

We have established an Innovation Hub open to all Telstra employees, to bring innovation and the need to constantly improve our processes and customer advocacy to the top of everyone’s agenda. The Hub is a place to discover new ideas about business process change and customer advocacy, share these ideas amongst virtual teams, and collaborate on building solutions. I am pleased to say that this has led to much more team-based work, and the sharing of knowledge and experience across the company. Secondly, a number of our initiatives are aimed at spreading an agile start-up culture through us holding hackethons and innovation challenges. Through Muru-D Telstra is making its contribution to the startup scene here in Australia. Our start-up accelerator, Muru-D , was launched in October 2013 and is led by Annie Parker and co-founder Charlotte Yarkoni. We are fortunate to have lots of passionate entrepreneurs in Australia who have chosen to take the path less travelled and build a business from scratch.

The first group of nine Muru-D startups graduated in 2014, and we have been thrilled to see where the teams ended up after the six month program.

To spread the innovation message even further, four of the startups were followed and filmed for the entire six months thanks to the Chief Entertainment and Telstra Media teams. The program, called ‘The Story of a Startup’, follows these extraordinary entrepreneurs through the whole Muru-D process, giving everyone a taste of life as a startup. The program aired on 17 January this year on LifeStyle channel in Australia.


1 [Muru-D is “road or path to” in the Eora language, along with the capital D that stands for digital. The name implies the road to digital and it also represents our goal of combing cultural awareness and modern digital technology.]

Our innovation-led culture change program in Telstra is an essential tool in preparing the company for what the GTWN is calling “the mobile century” – the new global, mobile digital environment where new technology and new consumer expectations are changing our industry and every other industry.

This is also an environment in which the female economy will play an ever increasing role. Of course, the GTWN has long recognised the important role that women play in the tech sector, but this is now being reflected more broadly across the industry as a whole. In Telstra we are also giving much more attention to the role of women in all of their various roles – as consumers, employees, small business entrepreneurs, industry leaders and experts – as well as the changing demographics, skills and expertise we will need to serve our female customers.

As an example of the measures we are implementing, I have put in place new recruitment guidelines to ensure that 40 percent of all new hires in Telstra’s Operations team will be female. Despite gender inequality being evident throughout the technology industry, we are choosing to tackle this head on to set an example for the industry and for anyone considering a career at in ICT. In addition to our measures to ensure more inclusive work conditions (through a policy of making all roles flexible), all selection panels will have one female representative, and all candidate shortlists will include at least one female. Hiring managers will also need to interview the best female candidate on the shortlist. This isn’t just about bringing more females into Telstra Operations; it is about what is good for our business, and the importance of valuing diversity and the unique perspective and attributes of women, to enable us to be truly innovative.

So, as you can see, Telstra is continuing to evolve and change in response to many new challenges in our operational environment. A key measure of all of the above activity is customer advocacy, and is particularly relevant to our innovation culture change. To reward individuals who have put the customer at the heart of what we do, we have established a Pay It Forward program.

As part of this recognition program, 20 Telstra advocacy stars will be rewarded with a trip to Gallipoli, Turkey, for the 100th anniversary of World War I. During the trip they will assist in the centenary commemorative services on Anzac Day, 25 April 2015. I am sure this will be a life-changing experience for them all and will be a clear demonstration of the importance we place on brilliant customer advocacy.

And finally, I wanted to say how important it is for us to stay globally connected in this time of rapid change in our industry. In Australia it is reasonable to feel removed from the global trends. I was therefore pleased to have the opportunity to accompany a number of Telstra senior executives in late 2014 on a tour of Asia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Europe. Meeting with many of our peers and new entrants in the industry showed us how much we have in common, despite differences in size and geography. It also gave us valuable insights into the different approaches being adopted by the smaller, more agile start-ups in the digital space.

Overall, the coming year promises to hold many new challenges. As we move forward together into this new digital economy and society, I believe it is even more important for us to support each other through our international networks, like the GTWN, the GSMA and its partners. By promoting an open exchange of experiences and debating emerging issues, we can work together to achieve the best outcomes. So, a very big ‘thank you’ once again to the GTWN and its members for your continued support. I look forward to working with you to make 2015 a rewarding year for all.

Kate McKenzie was appointed Telstra’s Chief Operations Officer in October 2013. This role is responsible for Telstra Operations, Chief Technology Office and innovation portfolios to better integrate technology development and implementation.

Prior to her current role, Kate was Group Managing Director, Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing from March 2010. In this role, Kate oversaw product, promotion and pricing across Telstra, including the major product units – Mobile Products, Fixed Voice and Broadband, Network Applications and Services, Data and IP as well as the National Broadband Network (NBN) team and the Chief Technology Office.

Kate oversaw the rollout of Telstra’s new brand identity, was at the forefront of the turnaround in Telstra’s mobile business and led the company’s transition to the. Previously, Kate was Group Managing Director of Strategic Marketing and before that, Group Managing Director of the Telstra Wholesale business unit. Before joining Telstra in 2004, Kate was Director-General of the Department of Commerce in New South Wales and has previously held a range of senior executive roles in government departments and offices.