Gladys Berejiklian among names being considered to become the ...

7 days ago
Gladys Berejiklian

Former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is among the names being considered as the new Optus CEO following resignation of Kelly Bayer Rosmarin.

Ms Berejiklian is the executive responsible for managing Optus' business customers and was appointed to the role in early 2022. 

However, an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into the actions of Ms  Berejiklian's ex-partner, Daryl Maguire, who was the Member of Parliament for Wagga Wagga at the time, revealed that she had participated in significant corrupt conduct. 

Berejiklian was found to be corrupt because she did not declare a potential conflict of interest between her public duties as premier and her private relationship.

Outgoing CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin resigned on Monday after the telecommunications giant suffered a fraught 18 months marked by a cyber attack and an hours-long outage that affected millions of Australians.

In a statement, Ms Bayer Rosmarin said it was an 'appropriate time to step down' and that it had been an 'honour and a priviledge' to lead the team at Optus. 

Former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured in June) is among the names being considered as the new Optus CEO following resignation of Kelly Bayer Rosmarin

Outgoing CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin (pictured last week) announced she would resign on Monday after the telecommunications giant suffered a fraught 18 months marked by a cyber attack and an hours-long outage that affected millions of Australians

Ms Berejiklian, in her role as treasurer and later premier, supported and followed up a proposal for funding for the Clay Target Association - in Mr Maguire's electorate - in 2016 and 2017. 

The Commission found she behaved this way in part 'to maintain or advance that relationship' with Mr Maguire.

In 2018, ICAC found she 'breached public trust' again in her decision making for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music - another proposal advanced by Mr Maguire.

She set aside a $20million funding pool for the project.

Ms Berejiklian, again, did not disclose a potential conflict of interest based on her relationship with Mr Maguire.

The 300-seat music conservatorium, announced in August 2018 when Ms Berejiklian was in a secret relationship with Mr Maguire, did not go ahead because the business case didn't stack up.

Ms Berejiklian was also found to have not reported her suspicions Mr Maguire may have been acting corruptly - as parliamentarians are required to do.

Despite a finding of corruption, the ICAC was not of the opinion the former premier should be charged with any criminal conduct.

This may raise red flags about her candidacy for the top job at Optus. Ms Berejiklian is in the process of appealing the ICAC findings. 

Ms Bayer Rosmarin tendered her resignation on Monday.

'It's been an honour and privilege to lead the team at Optus and to serve our customers,' she said.

'I was also able to communicate Optus' commitment to restore trust and continue to serve customers.

'Having now had time for some personal reflection, I have come to the decision that my resignation is in the best interest of Optus moving forward.'

The outgoing CEO's husband was seen leaving the family's $14million mansion in Vaucluse at about 12.20pm on Monday. 

He ignored journalists' questions and accelerated loudly up the road in a grey Lexus. 

Ms Berejiklian is the executive responsible for managing Optus' business customers and was appointed to the role in early 2022

Optus experienced a nationwide outage on November 8, leaving customers without access to the internet for up to 12 hours

Chief financial officer Michael Venter will be interim CEO while continuing in his current position. It is understood that Mr Venter is only a temporary replacement. 

Former Optus business managing director Peter Kaliaropoulos, who has been described as a 'veteran telecommunications executive' will become the company's chief operating officer from Wednesday and report to Mr Venter. 

Pip Marlow, the outgoing chief executive of Salesforce's Australian and ASEAN operations, is also being considered as a candidate for the top job. 

The long-time Microsoft executive, who was hired from Suncorp in 2019, is regarded as one of the most respected business leaders in the country. 

Ms Marlow is credited with spearheading Salesforce's aggressive local expansion into the government and public sector market. 

Optus may also choose to transfer an executive from Singtel, it's parent company in Singapore, which occurred when Allan Lew was handed the top job in 2014. 

Mr Lew had previously held a slew of senior roles in Singtel, including chief executive Group Digital Life, chief executive Singapore and chief operating officer Advanced Info Service, Singtel's regional mobile division. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese lambasted the telco on Monday, calling the outage and Optus's response 'a really regrettable incident'.

'Many individuals, millions of Australians and so many businesses were left without information about what was going on,' he told Sky News.

The government was working on an analysis that would draw lessons from the outage and send a message to the public and private sectors, he said.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said it was undoubtedly a difficult decision and she wished the former CEO well for the future.

'We need to learn the lessons to ensure industry and government is as prepared as possible, given no network is fully immune,' she said.

Ms Bayer Rosmarin was appointed to the top job in April 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September 2022, she presided over one of the telco's worst PR disasters when it suffered a massive data breach that affected 10 million Australians and resulted in the driver's licence, Medicare and passport numbers of 10,000 customers being stolen and leaked online.

About 14 months later, Optus was hit by a 12-hour-long outage that prevented more than one-third of Australians from accessing the internet and receiving cell service.

More than 200 emergency calls could not go through to the triple-zero line.

Yuen Kuan Moon, chief of Optus's parent company Singtel, acknowledged the former CEO's leadership.

'Kelly has always led with integrity and had all stakeholders' best interests at heart,' he said.

'We understand her decision and wish her the very best in her future endeavours.'

Following the November 8 outage, Ms Bayer Rosmarin was summoned to a parliamentary inquiry where she was roasted by senators channelling the ire of their constituents.

During Friday's hearing, Nationals senator Ross Cadell queried her response during and after the network shutdown and asked whether it was time for new leadership at the telco.

She said she would 'take that on board'.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who chairs the Senate inquiry into the outage, thanked Ms Bayer Rosmarin for answering questions.

'This was never about which individual is CEO,' Senator Hanson-Young said.

'This is about ensuring millions of Australians have access to what is an essential service, including the ability to call 000 in an emergency, access government services, contact loved ones and make and take essential payments.'

The Senate inquiry would continue examining solutions, such as stronger regulations for telecommunications companies, Senator Hanson-Young said.

Opposition communications spokesman David Coleman said Ms Bayer Rosmarin's resignation was not surprising.

'The focus must now turn to investigating what went wrong, especially with regards to the 000 calls that did not get through,' he said.

The government announced a review of the network outage nearly two weeks ago.

More to come 

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