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Gladys among Optus CEO contenders

Optus CEO Senate Inquiry
The search is on to find Kelly Bayer Rosmarin’s replacement. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

With Optus boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin calling it quits after overseeing two major crises in just 13 months, the global search to replace her has begun.

Announcing her resignation on Monday morning, Optus’ parent company Singtel stated that it would begin a recruitment process to find Ms Bayer Rosmarin’s replacement.

And already, a number of contenders have emerged to take the reins of the embattled telco.

Gladys Berejiklian

Among the internal candidates it’s understood that former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has flagged that she is interested in assuming the chief executive role.

Ms Berejiklian is the executive responsible for managing Optus’ business customers and was appointed to the role in early 2022.

However, an ICAC inquiry into the dealings of Ms Berejiklian’s former partner Daryl Maguire, then MP for Wagga Wagga, that found she had engaged in serious corrupt conduct means she could be viewed as a risky option, thus weighing on her candidacy. Ms Berejiklian is appealing the findings.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NCA NewsWire Photos - 29 JUNE, 2023: Former NSW Premier  Gladys Berejiklian pictured as she leaves home in Sydney on the day her ICAC findings are handed down. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer
Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, who was announced as a star recruit to Optus in 2022, is understood to be interested in the top job. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Michael Venter

Among Optus’ executive ranks is Michael Venter, the group’s chief financial officer since 2021, who will assume the role of interim chief executive as Singtel looks for a permanent replacement.

Like Ms Bayer Rosmarin, Mr Venter is a former Commonwealth Bank executive and has overseen Optus post healthy profit results in Australia’s competitive telco market.

In May, the communications giant announced EBITDA growth of 4.5 per cent to $2.1bn after it added 425,000 mobile subscribers for the year to March 31.

Should he impress his Singaporean bosses as the company recruits a new chief executive, Mr Venter could land the top job. However he is said to be viewed as a safe pair of hands while the company finds a permanent replacement.

Peter Kaliaropoulos

Accompanying the announcement that Ms Bayer Rosmarin had quit was news that Peter Kaliaropoulos had joined Optus in the freshly established position of chief operator officer.

From 2003-2005, Mr Kaliaropoulos was the managing director of the telco’s business division. He served as the chief of Singaporean telecommunications conglomerate StarHub and later headed the Saudi Arabian arm of Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain Group until 2020.

With a distinguished and proven career in the telecommunications sector, Mr Kaliaropoulos will now shape as a candidate inside Optus to take the wheel from Ms Bayer Rosmarin.

MAY 2003 : Optus business services director Peter Kaliaropoulos 05/03.\nP/\n p39//MAY 2003 : Optus business services director Peter Kaliaropoulos 05/03.\nP/
Experienced telco executive Peter Kaliaropoulos has just joined Optus as chief operating officer. Picture: supplied.

Pip Marlow

The outgoing chief executive of Salesforce’s Australian and ASEAN operations, Pip Marlow is an external candidate who could be considered for the vacant role as the head of Optus.

Hired from Suncorp in 2019, Ms Marlow is highly regarded as one of the most respected business leaders in the country and led Salesforce’s aggressive local expansion into the government and public sector market. Prior to that, she was a long-time Microsoft executive.

Singapore ring-in

Another option for Optus is to parachute a proven executive in from its parent company’s operations in Singapore.

This move is not without precedent. From 2014 to 2019, Allan Lew served as the boss of Optus, having held a range of senior roles in Singtel, including chief executive Group Digital Life, chief executive Singapore and chief operating officer Advanced Info Service, Singtel’s regional mobile division.

Since leaving the helm of Optus, Mr Lew has overseen Singtel’s operations in Thailand.