In what will result in a decent shake up of the Australian Telco landscape, NBN CEO Stephen Rue has been appointed a the new Optus CEO following months of searching after the departure of Kelly Bayer-Rosmarin.

Mr Rue joined the NBN as CFO ten years ago and became CEO six years ago, leading the NBN through some of the biggest growth phases, new generation network and of course through COVID.

Optus’ Chairman Paul O’Sullivan said, “Stephen was chosen after a rigorous process that involved a slate of high-quality candidates. We’re extremely pleased to have someone of his calibre to lead the next chapter at Optus. His experience in setting up the digital backbone of Australia will serve us well as we reinvigorate Optus as Australia’s leading challenger telecommunications brand. We expect Stephen’s operational and financial background to lift service standards significantly for the benefit of our customers.”   

Stephen Rue said, “I’m honoured and excited to be given the opportunity to lead Optus, a company that has strived to serve Australians for over two decades. Optus’ continuous investments in critical infrastructure through the years has resulted in an extensive 5G network that is being strengthened in regional Australia. My job will be to take care of Optus’ customers, people and business and to provide strong competition and choice. I look forward to accelerating the transformation at Optus so fellow Australians continue to have the choice of a strong alternative telecoms provider and the country as a whole can harness the power of digital connectivity to drive economic participation and social inclusion.” 

Interestingly, the new CEO comes in at a time of change for Optus, with the parent company Singtel also moving to a decentralised operating structure, to “empower its businesses”. This means the Optus CEO and executives will report to the Optus Board and Stephen will join the Board and report to the Chairman.

While that might seem corporate and boring, much of the criticism in recent years during the data breach and outage suggested that too many decisions were being handed “down” from Singtel, this new structure should give Optus more freedom to operate in a more dynamic and frankly Australian way.

It’s a new era for Optus, and Stephen Rue has nothing but opportunity ahead of him if they play their cards right.

The NBN now begins its search for a new CEO.

Kate McKenzie, NBN Co Chair, said: “Stephen has consistently delivered against challenging targets and has fostered a strong culture of purpose, innovation, collaboration and excellence within the company.

“Under his leadership, nbn completed the initial build of the network on time in December 2020, reached the milestone of connecting more than 8.5 million homes and businesses; and set the company on the next phase of its journey to become a fully operational customer focused company.

“nbn is making significant progress in upgrading the network, increasing the availability of higher speeds, and providing greater capacity and reliability – all to lift the digital capability of Australia. “I thank him for his commitment to nbn and wish him well in his future role.”

Speaking specifically of his time at NBN, Stephen Rue said “It has been an enormous privilege to work alongside a talented team dedicated to connecting Australians to high-quality broadband services across the country.

“We are transforming Australia’s digital landscape, connecting millions of homes and businesses to high-speed broadband, and laying the foundation for future innovation and data growth.

“And we have delivered fast and reliable broadband to even the most remote areas of Australia, continuously working to bridge the digital divide, lifting the digital capability of our nation and empowering communities.

“Our purpose has always been such a great source of pride and I am so proud of what the team at nbn has achieved, and will continue to achieve, in the future.”

NBN say The Board is committed to a smooth transition and Chief Financial Officer Philip Knox will become the interim CEO in due course, until a new CEO is appointed.