Chorus names former Telstra exec as next CEO

Kate McKenzie starts role in February 2017

Chorus has appointed former Telstra executive Kate McKenzie as its new CEO, effective from February next year.

McKenzie was most recently Telstra’s Chief Operations Officer, responsible for field services, IT and network architecture and operations.

Her previous roles at Telstra included Group Managing Director, Innovation, Products and Marketing; Group Managing Director, Wholesale; and Group Managing Director, Regulatory, Public Policy and Communications.

“As a provider of strategically critical infrastructure, Chorus has a pivotal role to play in New Zealand’s future and I am looking forward to contributing to the next stage of its development, with a strong focus on delivering great experiences for customers,” says McKenzie, in a statement.

McKenzie is a qualified lawyer with a strong track record in understanding government and regulatory environments.

Before joining Telstra, MacKenzie was CEO in the NSW Government of the Departments of Commerce, Industrial Relations and the Workcover Authority. She worked in the Cabinet Office on the development and implementation of competition policy, energy reform, privatisation and a range of complex Commonwealth/State negotiations.

She is also is a member of Chief Executive Women, has served on the Telstra Foundation, Telstra’s philanthropic arm and has had a long history of involvement in promoting the interests of indigenous communities.

Chorus chairman Patrick Strange and the Board thanked Mark Ratcliffe for his service as CEO.

Mark Ratcliffe
Mark Ratcliffe

“Following a handover period in February, Mark will step down from Chorus with the thanks and best wishes of the Board for a job well done.

“Having skillfully navigated through the establishment of Chorus and some tumultuous years, Mark can step down knowing the fibre rollout is going well, the company is in a strong position and it has been recognised as one of the best employers in Australasia for five consecutive years,” says Strange.

“We look forward to Kate leading Chorus’ people to build on the excellent platform left for her by Mark Ratcliffe, and the successful rollout of Ultra-fast Broadband,” says Strange.

Jordan Carter
Jordan Carter

The challenge for Chorus’ new Chief Executive is how to manage that transition off copper in a way that supports better connectivity for all New Zealanders

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter, meanwhile, welcomes the appointment of McKenzie, and highlights the challenges of the role.

Chorus is playing a vital part in building New Zealand’s Internet-enabled future, says Carter.

"The new Chief Executive will have big shoes to fill and we see some big challenges in this role.”

Chorus has faced challenges this year in meeting demand for fibre, and InternetNZ hopes that era is over.

“Chorus has a responsibility to get New Zealanders connected as quickly and as seamlessly as possible - and we hope that the new Chief Executive is keen to meet that challenge.”

That means providing products that meet customer demand as it changes over time. For example, moving the base product from 30mbps to 50mbps. Providing excellent service to Internet users and the Internet Service Providers that support them is core business for Chorus.

He says one of those challenges is the true transition of Chorus from legal copper technology fibre.

Read more: Chorus doubles half year profit, lifts full year guidance

“The New Zealand telecommunications market is changing fast,” says Carter.

It is becoming increasingly evident that copper cannot support adequate performance for an ever-growing proportion of New Zealanders - particularly in rural areas. InternetNZ believes that copper is not capable of contributing to the Government’s target of 50 mbps for 99 per cent of New Zealanders by 2025.

Copper is increasingly inefficient - more expensive than fibre, and more expensive than other emerging forms of connectivity, he states.

“The challenge for Chorus’ new Chief Executive is how to manage that transition off copper in a way that supports better connectivity for all New Zealanders.”

There is also the challenge to drive utilisation, productivity and benefit from better connectivity

Unlocking the creative, productive and social potential of better connectivity is another big challenge for the new Chorus CEO, he states.

InternetNZ and Chorus work together in the Innovation Partnership, which has previously identified that better connectivity could enable $34 billion in productivity gains.

“As a country, we have invested in fibre and better connectivity not just for the sake of better infrastructure, but because it lays a foundation for better economic and social outcomes for all New Zealanders.

“We want to continue to work with Chorus to realise this potential,” concludes Carter.

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