Ernie Newman resigns

TUANZ CEO to depart in late September

[UPDATED] TUANZ CEO Ernie Newman has resigned after twelve years in the role.

In an informal email Newman explains he will be leaving the role in late September. “It’s been a pretty interesting ride since I joined here in January 1999. It’s taken me to some incredibly interesting places, and brought me to meet some great people along the way. I’m really proud of the changes TUANZ has helped bring to the telecommunications landscape over that period,” Newman writes.

“TUANZ has kept me interested for 12 years which says a lot about the industry and the people. And last week’s Ministerial decision on Mobile Termination Rates brings a sense of success and closure to a suite of last-generation policy issues, making this as good a moment as any to make a move.”

Newman says he has no plans, but that doing “nothing” is not an option. “Much as it’s tempting to use the standard “more time with friends and family” line, experience tells me that after ten days of doing nothing I’ll be out of my mind with boredom. (The long term retirement plan — putting the accordion on the plane to Paris and busking on the Metro — is still quite a few years away),” he writes.

“So maybe I’ll turn up again in telecommunications, or maybe somewhere entirely different. I’ve got a few strings to the bow. Any leads will be welcomed!”

TUANZ Chair Pat O’Connell, who is currently overseas, says the TUANZ Board will address the issue of who will succeed Newman as CEO shortly. He paid tribute to Newman in an email to TUANZ members today.

“The Minister's decision last week to regulate mobile termination rates was a very important milestone. I know that Ernie saw it as a natural point at which to make his decision to move on, and I respect his wishes. He will finish on a date to be negotiated but probably around the end of September. As to what he plans to do next, I'll let him talk about that in his own way.”

The industry has also paid tribute to Newman’s work. Spokespeople from both Telecom and Vodafone acknowledged that, although their companies had not always seen the ‘eye to eye’ with Newman, they respected his passionate committment to the industry. TelstraClear provided a brief statement acknowledging Newman’s contribution.

ICT Minister Steven Joyce said: “Ernie has enlivened debate on telecommunications issues in New Zealand for over a decade. I'm grateful for his hard work and for the enthusiasm he has shown towards improving telecommunications services in New Zealand.” Former ICT Minister, now Labour Finance spokesperson, David Cunliffe released a joint media release with current Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran. “His leadership helped steer the industry towards a pro competitive environment. He has always shown independence and courage and has never been afraid to express his views. And he has shown a deep understanding of the telecommunications industry dynamics. He will be missed,” says Cunliffe. Telecommunications Carriers Forum CEO David Stone says he respected Newman’s decision to leave and the timing around it. He says he will be missed on the TCF board – TUANZ holds a non-voting consumer seat. Finally, 2degrees founder Tex Edwards, who’s company has benefited greatly from Newman’s tireless pursuit of the regulation of Mobile Termination Rates, provided the following comment. “Ernie is a true consumer champion. One of the many things he can be proud of achieving throughout his time at TUANZ is that competition has improved and prices have come down. Over four million kiwis benefit daily from Ernie’s work. The industry & government officials will miss his unique contribution.“

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