Bayer Rosmarin has been widely criticised for mishandling both crises, and slammed for poor communication and transparency. It has raised questions about her future leading Optus. Earlier this year, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce retired after a backlash from customers over years of poor service.
“She’s unlikely to be in that role in 12 months’ time,” says a former senior Optus executive, who requested anonymity. “They seemed to take a disproportionate amount of time to understand what happened in the cyberattack, and a disproportionate amount of time on this network issue to identify and fix the problem.”
“Network outages happen, cyber breaches happen. It’s the risk of doing business. It’s how you respond to them, the speed of which you respond to them, the speed with which you operationally fix it, and the transparency with which you communicate it.”
Another telecommunications executive, who would not speak publicly because of commercial sensitivities, said this of Optus’ poor communication around the network outage. “If your first reaction to everything is to protect your brand you will end up doing the wrong thing. If your first thought is how do I protect, or look after the customer, then your commentary is very different.”
Bayer Rosmarin will face a Senate committee hearing on Friday. She declined an interview request. An Optus spokesperson said the chief executive was too busy calling customers and managing the continuing fallout from the network outage.
At the Senate hearing, the key questions from politicians will be around what went wrong with Optus’ risk management plan, and the communication with governments and customers.
All companies, particularly those managing critical infrastructure or leading government agencies, have a risk management plan to follow in the event of a crisis such as a network outage.
For example, senior Telstra executives carry a spare SIM card that is either with Optus or Vodafone. If Telstra’s network goes down, those executives can immediately use a rival network to communicate and fix the problem quickly.
Oddly, Bayer Rosmarin phoned the ABC on the day of Optus network outage using WhatsApp, while there were reports of key Optus staff being unable to communicate with their network down.
In August, when Bayer Rosmarin attended the Fortescue Metals Group 20th anniversary party in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara, she told other attendees she had no mobile service. A chief executive job is 24/7. If you’re managing critical infrastructure, it’s imperative to be connected at all times.
When Bayer Rosmarin appears at the hearing, questions might also be asked of where her chairman, Paul O’Sullivan, a former Optus chief executive, has been throughout the recent crises.
O’Sullivan, who also chairs ANZ Banking Group, Western Sydney Airport and is a director of St Vincent’s Health Australia, spent two decades of his career working at Optus and Singtel.
He, too, should front the Senate with answers for angry and upset Optus stakeholders. O’Sullivan has chaired Optus for nine years, and appointed Bayer Rosmarin, despite her lack of telecommunications industry experience.
The Senate committee and the reviews under way into the outage are also likely to raise questions about whether there is a weakness in the operational capability of Optus senior team to respond to such crises, and if there has been under-investment in Optus core infrastructure by its parent SingTel.
Bayer Rosmarin knows the response to a crisis is the difference between a good and great leader. She said so in an interview six months after becoming Optus’ chief executive. She also said in such tough times, making smart decisions, collaborating as a team, and maintaining optimism were important. It seems like Bayer Rosmarin will need plenty of the latter.
The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.
(The following story may or may not have been edited by NEUSCORP.COM and was generated automatically from a Syndicated Feed. NEUSCORP.COM also bears no responsibility or liability for the content.)