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Three behaviours all great leaders possess

Telstra Careers Advice

Posted on November 18, 2019

3 min read

Leaders lead by example. They set the pace by actioning the behaviours they want to see from their teams, stakeholders, and anyone else they have influence over.

In my time at Telstra, I have worked closely with several leaders who have had an enormous influence on the company culture. They’ve made complex things simple to understand and helped me find my courage by showing that they care.

As a leader, I try to show the right behaviour to drive a great culture for my team and try to replicate what I’ve seen excellent leaders do. Here’s what I believe are the most important and impactful behaviours great leaders possess.

Having real conversations

Great leaders have real conversations with the people they work with. Having a human connection with your team influences their productivity and produces great results. Instead of letting things go back and forth over email, you can pick up the phone and easily resolve the issue at hand.

When things aren’t going right, it’s your responsibility as a leader to give constructive feedback to your members and have difficult conversations to get things running again. It’s important to use these conversations to understand your team’s motivations and any underlying issues they may have. This will let you effectively influence your team to achieve the priorities and outcomes you’ve set for them.

Trusting teams to deliver

The very best leaders have trust in their teams and their teams trust them to lead. You may have excellent strategies or an amazing work ethic, but without trust, it will be challenging to achieve results through your team. At Telstra, we want our teams to be able to work quickly and effectively, which is why we empower them to use their expertise to make and act on decisions. It is only through clear communication and connection that your team will feel liberated to voice their opinions and perform to the best of their ability.

As leaders, we have to trust our people to make decisions. Sometimes they might not be right, but you can use it as an opportunity to coach or provide a learning experience in the future. By empowering people and improving their experience as an employee, it repurposes their energy and focus to drive outcomes.

Promoting a fun and energetic work environment

Lastly, leaders need to facilitate a fun and energetic work environment where people genuinely enjoy working together. Telstra is by far the most supportive and inclusive workplace that I have ever worked in. The senior leaders help the team members contribute in their unique way to make the organisation an energetic environment of progress and learning. We encourage people to live our company values and support each other through every moment. Having this culture of support and inclusivity allows our people to grow their careers while being their most authentic selves. 

Interested in joining a genuinely supportive and inclusive work culture? Check out our latest job opportunities.

Can startups start outside Silicon Valley?


Posted on October 20, 2016

3 min read

Drawing on his extensive experience in both places, muru-D’s new Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ben Sand shares his thoughts on building successful startups in Australia vs. Silicon Valley.

Startups are groups of people building new things, and the way all large companies start out. As the dynamics of work change I think working in startups and developing new ventures may be the most common form of work environment within 10-20 years. Given this scenario, I am very motivated to help people become good at building startups.

Over the last 15 years I have helped build a number of startups in Australia and Silicon Valley. The most successful is Meta, which I cofounded. In the last 3.5 years it has grown to 150 people and raised about AU$100M. Prior to Meta I led an education company called Brainworth.

When starting a company, a fair question is: Where is the best place to start?

It’s a popular myth that building tech companies can only be done well in Silicon Valley. The truth is a bit more nuanced.

It is very hard to grow a tech company outside of Silicon Valley, but it is almost impossible to start one in Silicon Valley.

An engineer out of college will typically earn AU$150,000-$200,000/year + stock options. And people with 5-10 years’ experience will earn 3-5 times that much or more.

Attracting and retaining talent in Silicon Valley is extremely challenging and expensive, and it is hard to be competitive if you have raised less than AU$10-$20 million in capital.

In fact even Google co-founder Sergey Brin has encouraged people to consider starting companies outside Silicon Valley for this very reason[1].

People have noticed a downturn in tech company valuations recently, but employee salaries continue to rise. The reason for this apparent paradox is that tech is actually getting stronger, but it was slightly overvalued for a short period.

A large group of investors from other sectors came in to join the tech boom. They paid a bit too much per share as they did not understand the business fundamentals as well as more seasoned investors. They have mostly written down their investments and made a slight retreat. We are now back to business as usual.

During that time, good quality companies continued to grow, tech workers continued to flock to San Francisco and San Francisco housing prices continued to rise.

For anyone who thinks Sydney prices are unreasonable, please take a moment to consider people working 80 hours a week in the San Francisco Bay Area. To live close to work, means a 1 bedroom city apartment. The median rent in San Francisco is about A$1200-$1500/week.

This explains why high salaries are required, and why starting a company in San Francisco is very hard right now.

In summary, starting in Silicon Valley is very hard. Australia is a great place to build a tech company.

Applications are now open for the muru-D #SYD4 class. For more information or to apply visit:


The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 6, 2016

6 min read

Called one of the world’s elite thinkers by Fast Company Magazine, Sir Ken Robinson works with governments and education systems around the world, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s leading cultural organisations. We’re thrilled to have him as a headline speaker at Telstra Vantage 2016.

In 2006, I gave a talk at the TED conference in California, called “Do Schools Kill Creativity.” It’s proved to be the most watched talk in the history of TED and has been viewed online over 40 million times (you can see some of my other talks here.) I know they’re not Beyoncé numbers, but I don’t twerk.  My argument was that we’re all born with immense natural talents, but by the time we’ve been through education too many of us have lost touch with them. That was always a problem but it’s made much worse by the political pressures of testing and standardisation that have been sweeping through education almost everywhere. In my latest book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education, I argue that the consequences are disastrous for individuals and for the health of our communities.

Since I gave that first TED talk, I’ve heard from students, parents and educators from around the world, who say how exasperated they are by the deadening effects of standards and testing on them, their children, or their friends. They include the high levels of stress and depression among students and their teachers, the alarming rates of non-graduation and the rising levels of unemployment among graduates and non-graduates alike.

Politicians often scratch their heads over these problems. Sometimes, they punish schools for not making the grade. Sometimes, they fund remedial programs to get them back on track. But the problems persist and in many ways they’re getting worse. The reason is that many of these problems are being caused by the system itself.

When I was in my twenties in Liverpool, I made a visit to an abattoir. (I don’t remember why now. I was probably on a date.) Abattoirs are designed to kill animals. And they work. Very few escape and form survivors’ clubs. As we came to the end, we passed a door that was marked “veterinarian.” I imagined this person was fairly depressed at the end of an average day, and I asked the guide why the abattoir had a veterinarian. Wasn’t it a bit late for that? He said that the veterinarian came in periodically to conduct random autopsies. I thought, he must’ve seen a pattern by now.

If you design a system to do something specific, don’t be surprised if it does. If you run an education system based on standardisation and conformity that suppresses individuality, imagination, and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does. The issue in a nutshell is this: Most developed countries did not have mass systems of public education much before the middle of the nineteenth century. These systems were developed in large part to meet the labour needs of the Industrial Revolution and they are organised on the principles of mass production. They are inherently unsuited to the wholly different circumstances of the twenty-first century. Making them even more standardised is the exact opposite of what our children, communities and economies really need.

I’m not suggesting that all schools are terrible or that the whole system is a mess. Public education has benefited millions of people in all sorts of ways, including me. I could not have had the life I’ve had but for the free public education I received in England. Growing up in a large working-class family in 1950s Liverpool, my life could have gone in a completely different direction. Education opened my mind to the world around me and gave me the foundations on which I’ve created my life. But far too many have not benefitted as they should from the long years of public education. The success of those who do well in the system comes at a high price for the many who do not.

The need for radical change in how schools work – and in national education policies to support them – really is urgent. In the last forty years, the population of the world has doubled from less than three billion to more than seven billion. We are the largest population of human beings ever to be on Earth at the same time, and we’re heading for nine billion by the middle of the century. At the same time, digital technologies are transforming how we all work, play, think, feel, and relate to each other. The old systems of education were not designed with this world in mind. Trying to improve them through more testing and competition doesn’t and won’t work.

The revolution I’m advocating is based on different principles from those of the standards movement. It is based on a belief in the great diversity of human intelligence, talent and creativity; in the value of the individual, in the right to self-determination, and in the importance of civic responsibility and respect for others.

The good news is that all around the world, there are many great schools, wonderful teachers, and inspiring leaders who are working creatively to provide students with the kinds of personalised, compassionate, and community-oriented education they need. There are entire school districts and even national systems that are moving in the same direction. People at all levels of these systems are pressing for the changes I’m arguing for. The challenge is to connect and empower them to make these changes spread, and the clock is ticking.

H.G. Wells once said that civilisation is a race between education and catastrophe. He was right. But we no longer need the old style industrial education, which was designed to meet the needs of the past. To meet the challenges that we, and our children face now, we need a transformed system of education that cultivates the many talents that lie deep within us all.



Dysruption, with a ‘Y’, is headed towards the financial services industry

featured Business and Enterprise

Posted on June 7, 2016

3 min read

Generation Y has come of age, and it’s done so with a mobile in hand, writes Rocky Scopelliti.

In 2015 Generation Y, otherwise known as Millennials (18 – 34 years old), overtook Baby Boomers as the largest global demographic group, with a population of one in three (two billion). Not only that, Millennials emerged as the largest source of global income, spending and wealth creation.

They dominate employment and are predicted to make up as much as 42 per cent of the workforce in Australia by 2020[i], and 75 per cent in the USA by 2025, generating more than US$8 trillion in annual income[ii].

Their economic power is greater than in any previous era with their spending power estimated to be US$10 trillion globally[iii]. Further, inter-generational wealth transfer from their Baby Boomer parents will see the personal wealth of this generation increase by an estimated US$59 trillion over the next several years[iv], creating the largest spill of wealth and financial relationships we have ever seen. Looking further out, their share of global financial assets is predicted to climb to 28 per cent by 2030[v].

On top of which, they are the most highly educated, media-saturated and ethnically diverse generation ever.

In short, Millennials really matter.

Millennials lead digitally driven lifestyles

For the last 12 months I have been researching the financial habits of Millennials, and following a global consumer survey, I’ve found that the personal lifestyle aspirations and financial needs of Millennials are inseparably fused by digital mobile technology.

There’s very little Millennials don’t do from their mobiles, with managing their finances high on the list of their regular activities.

This creates huge opportunities for financial institutions to become more embedded in their customers’ lives. However, the very same technologies offer new players a way to disrupt the market either as new entrants or as enablers.

Millennials have very real expectations around how they want to interact with their financial institutions and how these interactions should be enabled by mobile technology. This is a fact financial institutions can’t afford to ignore, and they simply can’t advertise their way into getting the attention of Millennials – simply because Millennials are always connected, doesn’t mean they’re listening.

Only by re-imagining the customer experience with Millennials and digitising their core business will institutions be able to transform and maintain relevance with the largest source of income, spending and wealth creation on the planet.

You can read more in my whitepaper, Millennials, Mobiles and Money: the forces reinventing financial services, and stay tuned for more highlights from the report coming this week, where we look at how Fintech maintains relevance with millennials and the opportunities to unlock value in banking.

[i] Generation Y: McCrindle Research, July 2013
[ii] How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America: Governance Studies at Brookings, May 2014
[iv] A Golden Age of Philanthropy Still Beckons: National Wealth Transfer and Potential for Philanthropy Technical Report; Centre of Wealth and Philanthropy; Boston College, May 2014
[v] Deloitte: 2010

Journey through the Singapore startup scene

Posted on May 19, 2016

5 min read

When you think about the leading innovation hubs around the world, Singapore probably doesn’t come to mind as quickly as places like Silicon Valley, Israel or Shanghai.  But this is starting to change. Andrew Wildblood, Telstra’s Country Managing Director for Singapore believes this is only the beginning of the country’s rise as an innovation hub for South East Asia.

One of the great things about working in technology in Singapore is the vibrant startup scene with several key conditions in place for the startup ecosystem to take off here.  We have a diverse population, often well-educated, with ubiquitous internet access. The World Bank already ranks Singapore as the easiest place in the world to do business and the Government is committed to policies that go even further to encourage entrepreneurs, including investing in research institutions and startup grants, under the ‘Smart Nation’ vision.

Also Singapore shares some similarities with Israel in being a small country with limited natural resources, market size and population, and therefore really doesn’t have much choice other than pursuing economic opportunities through innovation and digital technology.

As new businesses and technologies have started to emerge in recent years, In Singapore, Telstra has ramped up our involvement in Singapore as part of our strategy to grow our business in Asia.

Through Telstra Ventures we invested in late stage, Singaporean headquartered startup Near in 2014, participating in their US$19 million Series B funding round. Near is now the largest location intelligence platform offering unique insights and data to the advertising industry.  In addition to the Singaporean market, it is expanding in Australia, India and Japan with other markets on the way.

In 2015, we followed up with an investment in Singaporean-based enepath, which specialises in communication technology for the financial services sector.  Given the consumption of communication services by financial institutions, this has turned out to be a great example of the benefits a large incumbent player like Telstra can gain from working with emerging tech companies, as we were able to leverage enepath’s expertise in services to trading rooms to quickly launch a new product solution called Telstra Trader Voice to offer our customers in the financial service industry.

To grow our network further, we recently made an investment in the Singapore-based Monk’s Hill Ventures Innovation Fund. A creation of successful entrepreneurs Peng Ong and Kuo-Yi Li and named after a Singaporean secondary school they both spent time at, Monk’s Hill is focused on mobile applications, cloud, security and IoT technologies across South East Asia, assessing up to 1,000 investment opportunities every year.

Of course it takes a lot of work to get a startup to the stage where someone like Telstra Ventures or Monk’s Hill might invest. This is where accelerators like Telstra’s muru-D program help.

We launched muru-D in Singapore last year to support startups from across the South East Asia.  Through muru-D we provide a selected group of early stage startups access to some seed capital, office space and expert advice and mentors to take their ideas to the next level.

The first cohort of nine startups under muru-D Singapore graduated a couple of months ago and there was some great businesses in the mix.  For example, sendhelper gives households on-demand access to pre-screened and insured cleaners, cooks, and laundromats through a simple and slick mobile app. The company is looking at expanding in South East Asia and Hong Kong and found muru-D very useful in helping them to effectively getting exposure to investors, media, and other key stakeholders in the region.

Philippines-based Stash also benefitted from the network of mentors who provided valuable insights, advice, and connections for the company to grow. Stash is a claims management platform for health insurance companies and doctors that is easy to use and lower risk of fraud.

For supporters of the startup scene in Singapore there was a lot to get excited about in muru-D’s first set of graduates.  First, there was the passion and energy of a highly committed group of entrepreneurs.  Second, there was the diversity of entrepreneurs it attracted, with people from Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam participating, as well as local Singaporeans.  Finally, there was the global outlook of the group with everyone focused on how they could build a business that would succeed outside Singapore.

This last point is absolutely critical, because if Singapore is to become a leader in innovation, it is going to need its startups and entrepreneurs to take their products to the world.  Some of the foundations are right and as I have described there are some fantastic entrepreneurs with disruptive technology emerging, now we will see if they will succeed at scale on a global level and how Telstra might be able to help.

Read more in our Ventures series