Telstra CTO’s exit a familiar story

Beverley Head

Proving that lightning does strike twice, Telstra has again lost a technology lead over an allegedly fudged CV.

report in The Australian newspaper on Friday noted that Telstra chief technology officer Vish Nandlall had falsified his CV, plagiarised presentation material, and left the company “under a cloud”.

It’s not the first time Telstra’s been duped by a senior executive’s CV. How embarrassing.

In 1993 Telstra hired “Dr” Bruno Sorrentino as its director of research only to sack him weeks later when his PhD in physics from Imperial College London proved fictional.

Telstra wasn’t the only organisation fooled – Mr Sorrentino had spent four years as CIO of ANZ before joining Telstra, only to be undone when his CV was found wanting by eagle-eyed colleagues who had wanted to read his PhD thesis. Turns out it didn’t exist.

The fact that Mr Sorrentino held his role as CIO of ANZ for four years (though he lasted only five weeks at Telstra) and that Mr Nandlall has been Telstra’s CTO for 21 months and Ericsson’s CTO before that demonstrates that both had something to offer their employers. Just not all of what Telstra had been led to believe.

Under Mr Nandlall Telstra opened its Gurrowa innovation lab in Melbourne and was working toward extending its big data capabilities. He outlined his vision in a wide ranging interview with last year.

At time of writing Mr Nandlall’s vision for Telstra’s 2020 telecommunications network is also available on Telstra’s website, though that will no doubt be erased shortly.

According to Telstra’s corporate governance web page the company is; “Committed to excellence in corporate governance, transparency and accountability. This is essential for the long term performance and sustainability of our company, and to protect and enhance the interests of our shareholders and other stakeholders.”

While it has confirmed to reporters that Mr Nandlall has left the company, Telstra hasn’t issued a release to the Stock Exchange – despite losing its chief technology officer under unusual circumstances.

The departure of the CTO at a company like Telstra would surely be expected to have some material impact on the company, and if it doesn’t what was he hired for in the first place? In any case its ASX opacity seems firmly at odds with its governance stance trumpeted on the website.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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