Russell’s return: Optus COO post beckons


news One of Optus chief executive Paul O’Sullivan’s bitterest telecommunications industry rivals has returned from a stint working overseas to become his chief lieutenant at SingTel Optus.

As the chief executive officer of Hutchison Telecommunications Australia from 2001 through 2007, Kevin Russell occupied a maverick position in the Australian mobile sector. Hutchison was the main company pushing the new generation of 3G mobile technologies during that period, competing strongly with rivals Telstra, Optus and Vodafone and stimulating them to follow in implementing higher speeds on their broadband networks.

If it hadn’t been for the entry of Hutchison into the Australian market in that period, with the strong push it made with its ‘3’ brand, many in the industry believe, it may have taken Australia’s other mobile telcos a longer time to develop their networks to take advantage of the wave of 3G upgrades available from global networking vendors.

Today, Optus announced that Russell would return from a stint leading Hutchison in the UK to become Optus’ chief operating officer, effectively becoming second in charge at the company and reporting directly to O’Sullivan himself.

“In the newly created role of chief operating officer, Mr Russell will be responsible for the day to day operations of the mass market segments of Optus’ business, as well as the wholesale and satellite division,” the company said in a statement this afternoon. “As such, he will be responsible for the Optus consumer, Optus small and medium business, and the Optus wholesale and satellite businesses, as well as Optus’ wholly owned subsidiary, Virgin Mobile.”

Russell said in Optus’ statement that he was returning to Australia “at a very exciting time” in the industry, with the rollout of 4G speeds at the major telcos, in addition to the deployment of the National Broadband Network. “I’m looking forward to working with Paul and the Optus team to take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said.

O’Sullivan added: “We are proud of our track record as Australia’s leading investor in telecommunications competition and our success as a market innovator. Kevin’s experience and this appointment will strengthen our ability to take full advantage of the opportunities emerging in our market. His track record in the industry speaks for itself and I am delighted to welcome him to the Optus team.”

A number of commentators (including the writer of this article) have speculated about O’Sullivan’s future with Optus over the past year, with the executive having led the company as CEO since 2004. It is likely that Russell’s appointment will add to this speculation.

Image credit: Optus


  1. Welcome home cobber . Now how about fixing the Optus lousy mobile phone coverage , which is a well known issue , and is in fact truly appalling , even in the Major Cities . A bit like that other Telco suffering current legal litigation for being totally incompetent , Vodafail or something like that .

  2. Founding CEO of a poorly run company ??? Why would Optus want him ???

    Hutchison started out in Australia in the late 1980’s in Paging when it was well known for nefarious and borderline sales tactics.
    Is that the way Optus is headed ?

    • It’s worth noting Russell has only been in Australia since around 2000 – He’s not the founding CEO (Most CEOs are appointed by shareholders).

Comments are closed.