Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hmmm - a view on the post Sol world

It has been interesting to see the reaction to the departure of Sol Trujillo. The first has been the tendency to use various Hispanic references to his departure, incuding the PM's "Adios" and a News Corp cartoon of Sol riding into the distance on his burro.

Equally interesting has been the morphing of the "thre amigos" to being Sol, Phil Burgess and Greg Winn, while the reality is that it was originally Sol and his three first wave colleagues, the two named and Bill Stewart.

Sol evidently has found the references to his Hispanic heritage to be verging on racist, which is a charge it is very hard to follow. Is it racist to liken Kevin Rudd to an over eager Belgian reporter? Has there been any part of the use of the Hispanic linkages to suggest that he is any lesser quality of a human merely through his heritage?

Meanwhile the firm he headed made a great trade in xenophobia, referring to their largest competitor as "Singapore Telecom", and focussing on the "Australian-ness" of Teltra (while still spruiking the shares in overseas markets).

It is interesting to see that Telstra's PR site "Now We Are Talking" has received a whole lot of negative assessments of Sol's contribution. This is a site that struggled to get comment that wasn't mere hagiography.

Meanwhile Telstra's own Kate McKenzie asks What's wrong with Australia, criticising the reaction of the media to Sol. Partly this seems to be a veiled comment on the Hispanic references. But another part is her sense that people who haven't worked for Sol directly don't really understand how great he is.

There is an element to which Sol, by his tendency to raise wide ranging ire, has drawn his own troops to him. Making everyone outside "the enemy" steels the resolve of his team. Members of the senior executive team get support from the CEO for being ontroversial, whereas in other more appeasement oriented regimes individual managers feel they can be cut off at any time.

Sol will, over time, be like ach of the last three CEOs (Ziggy, Frank and Mel - of Telecom), people under whom great things were achieved, some errors made, great profits extracted from monopoly rents but largely the great machine just grinds on.

1 comment:

  1. If Sol has a problem with "adios" then he should grow some cojones. Oh dear, I did it again. (-:

    You are absolutely right about the theme of Telstra's messaging. It is so unsubtle you could hardly miss it. Explicitly using the lyrics "We are Australian..." (subtext: our competitors are not - which to widely varying degrees is true)

    I expect that Sol has overpromised and underdelivered.