Nokia’s CEO, UK & Ireland, Cormac Whelan, had the chance to speak to the winner of this year’s ‘CEO of the Year’ award at the World Communication Awards: Macquarie Telecom Group’s CEO David Tudehope

What does it take to be a successful CEO? This is a question that surely haunts many a budding entrepreneur, but the answer, as always, is complex and buried in first-hand experience.
“We started the hard way,” said Tudehope, discussing the birth of Macquarie Telecom Group. “We were what you would now describe as a tech start-up, with a handful of people. We had big dreams and very little resources, and we were competing with a large government monopolist that was in the process of being deregulated.”
Tudehope in part attributes the company’s success to its relentless pursuit of the best possible customer experience, having used net promoter score (NPS) as a key metric for many years.
“For us, customer experience really is the heart of our business,” he said. “The power of one single number (NPS) is extraordinary when it comes to focussing the organisation. It’s really allowed us to fine-tune the business on a real time basis. If I have one regret it would be that we did not adopt this measure sooner.”
But, of course, achieving success almost 20 years ago and maintaining that success today are two very different things, especially in an ever-changing business environment. When asked for advice as to how to succeed in the industry today, Tudehope reinforced the fundamentals of leadership and cooperation, especially when it comes to hard choices around innovation.
“How do you identify the technologies that are going to be really critical to business success, compared to those that are just really interesting?” he asked. “One of the things we’ve done for almost 20 years is taken a Noah’s Ark of people with different roles in the business and invested a few weeks of concentrated thinking around one particular area. Almost every bit of innovation and change in our business has come through that.”
“There’s so much hype in our industry, which is fun and interesting. But, on the other hand, this can be quite distracting and pull you in too many directions. The key for us was concentrated thinking time, but bringing with me on that journey not just a couple of executives but someone from product, someone from marketing, from engineering… There has been a few times when we have come away from those meetings and decided not to do something, and I think that shows the real value in this methodology – having the courage to not do something, despite industry hype.”
Covering everything from digitalisation in the Covid era to progress of the National Broadband Network in Australia, the full interview with David Tudehope is available below.

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