nbn™ CEO pleads with staff to control costs in ‘seeya later’ letter

Teases research showing the NBN is creating jobs, especially for self-employed women

Bill Morrow NBN CEO
Outgoing nbn™ CEO Bill Morrow

The outgoing CEO of nbn™, the company building and operating Australia’s national broadband network (NBN), has implored the company’s staff to “keep our costs down” in the “note to employees” announcing his departure.

Posted to LinkedIn, Bill Morrow’s note says “I kindly ask for your ongoing support in three areas: 1) improving the customer experience for those touch points we control; 2) advancing the build of a high quality network; and 3) finding ways to keep our costs down so we can keep our services affordable for everyone.”

The note also says that Morrow is proud of nbn™’s staff, “knowing who you are, how you work together, and what you stand for.”

“There are many reasons why I feel this way but a few proof points include our engagement score lifting from the low 40s to the 70s putting us in the top quartile of companies down under; our voluntary turnover rate of employees improving and remaining the best in our industry; and the confirmation from third party surveys which show how our culture is underpinned by a set of deeply embedded and shared values. These values, as you know, are: We are One Team, We are Fearless, We Deliver, and most of all… We Care.”

nbn™ loses its head: CEO Bill Morrow bails

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“This last value is everything,” Morrow added. “When we care, we deliver the experience our customers need, we build our network to every home as soon as possible, and we are frugal with other people’s money.”

Morrow also wrote that “In two weeks we will be sharing the results of a recent study by well-respected economists who have researched the societal and economic impacts brought about because of nbn.”

“The study shows a material difference in how people live, work and connect. We can see the evidence of job creation, improved equality and greater levels of self-employment, particularly for women. You will hear more about this shortly but know that while many of us have always believed this to be the case, we now have evidence proving how the people behind nbn are making a difference.”

But back to the remarks about staying frugal, which reflect the fact that nbn™ has a couple of demanding financial imperatives.

One is to repay AU$19.5bn in debt that Australia’s government secured on its behalf, at higher interest rates than the government will pay itself. To fund those repayments, nbn™ has long-assumed that its average revenue per user will rise as users take up more expensive plans. But nbn™ has had to drop the cost of wholesale services to ensure more expensive plans deliver a customer experience to match their promised high speeds. With all those competing pressures, no wonder Morrow wants nbn™ staff to watch every penny. ®

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