Telecom makes Christchurch recovery appointments

UPDATED: Trish Keith, GM customer experience heads team that includes programme director Ralph Chivers

Telecom has announced that Trish Keith, currently general manager customer experience, will head its Christchurch recovery team.

In a statement Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds says Keith has been a senior manager in Christchurch for 20 years, and “the immediate focus for the team is getting our team of around 1600 back to work.”

Joining the recovery team as programme director is Ralph Chivers, who has been reassigned from the Telecom’s Ultra Fast Broadband team and who is officially employed as the telco's head of government and industry relations.

Computerworld asked Telecom spokesperson Katherine Murphy why the GM of customer experience and head of government relations is in charge of the recovery team, when presumably the major focus is on rebuilding the network. Wouldn’t someone with engineering experience be more appropriate?

“The issue is that it’s a whole lot bigger than a network infrastructure build,” she says. “It’s about 1600 people and their jobs in Christchurch. It’s about relocating all of them. Making sure we’ve got all the right buildings for them. It’s looking at where we put them across Christchurch and looking how we support them.”

She says Keith will bring together several workstreams, including looking at how Telecom has coped in the aftermath of the February earthquake.

“She’s got the appropriate level of seniority to manage it, she’s reporting directly to the executive,” Murphy says.

So does an engineer not have the appropriate level of seniority?

“Yes there are engineers in the business that do have that appropriate level of seniority but Trish is a born and bred Cantabrian, she’s been based in Christchurch the whole time she’s worked for Telecom, I believe. She’s down there, she’s on the ground and we felt it was appropriate that someone based in Christchurch was down there.”

Murphy says the cost of the recovery operation for Telecom is unlikely to be made public until the next financial results.

Last week Vodafone announced it had appointed Russell Hewitt, former CEO of Vodafone Australia and ex-managing director of HP New Zealand, to head its Christchurch business recovery operation.

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