It’s sad and essentially irrelevant any more, but the excerpt (not online) from Theresa Gattung’s book printed in Friday’s Business Herald is beautiful blog and commentator fodder. The book emerges this Friday – and it is certain to have more.
Gordon Campbell has had a good go, and of course The Standard is not above putting the boot in. David Farrar was more even-handed.
I feel sad because Theresa did opt and perhaps does not even now, seem to understand, even know, how she and her board failed. Nor, it seems, do unnamed “insiders”, interviewed reported by Tim Hunter in the Sunday Star Times.
“My recollection is the team were genuinely surprised by that [the government’s decision to split Telecom]. There had been a significant amount of engagement over a long period of time.”
One thing that struck me after the attacks in the USA on 9 September 2001, was the number of people that asked “why us? why did they do it?” They asked because they had not been looking outside the USA for information, but were seeing the world through their own media and navel gazing.
It feels to me that the senior Telecom management may have been in a similar reality distortion field – they they simply failed to understand that after years of monopoly pricing and under investment that they had lost their license to operate. There was even a petition for separation – signed by 100,000 people!
So the book will make for entertaining and interesting reading, but ultimately it is a sad story. I wonder why Theresa Gattung has written it – is she really putting herself up to be attacked? and will she be treated with respect, with aggression, or worst of all, indifference?
You decide – and I’ll end with three quotes from the book:
“That night I could barely stand to go to the board cocktail function with senior Australian staff”
“I had talked about the need to simplify Telecom’s pricing structures, and acknowledged that telecommunications pricing, being confusing as it often was, had contributed to keeping telco margins high. I very explicitly pointed out that this was not good enough and that we wanted to be much simpler and clearer in pricing”
“As I went back to my office Mark Verbiest called to see if I was okay and I was so upset and incoherent I could barely speak to him. Concerned he came back to the office – it was after 7pm by then and everyone had left for the night. When he came into the office I collapsed ad he held me up and stopped me falling to the floor“
“I wonder why Theresa Gattung has written it”
Good question. I wondered about this. Sometimes these books can be extended job applications or even manifestos, but from the excerpts we’ve seen so far, it seems Gattung mainly wants to explains and justify her view of events.
While this may be mentally healthy – a form of catharsis – it’s unlikely to do her career prospects any good, nor will it help her personal reputation.
And given everything she earned during her time at Telecom, the money will only be a drop in the ocean.
But, it does close off a chapter of her life.
I also saw this discussed in a number of places. The whole thing read as an extended advert for David Cunliffe, to be honest.
I read the excerpt then heard the piece on RNZ on Sunday morning. One word came to mind “whine”. That seems to be the consistent theme, that and such a fundamental disconnection between how Telecom viewed itself and how it was viewed. And Christ, she quickly got snakey when Laidlaw asked her about Cunliffe and the leaked cabinet paper. Even now she appears completely unconcerned that a secure cabinet paper made its way to Telecom.
Like Bill, I hope it will at least help her close off a chapter of her life. And let her engage with the next one.
Maybe she’s preparing for a role in politics and needs us to see her “human side”
It’d be a dim and extremely thick-skinned CEO not to notice that Telecom was at loggerheads with the government and the public – and, had been so for years.
There were court cases, one that Telecom won in the Privy Council, and costs for the government that included setting up inquiries, a telco commissioner and more. Did TG really think that would be overlooked and excused?
If so, I really don’t know what to say.
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