Optus CEO resigns after major network outage for 10M Australians

Millions of Australians have woken up the morning of November 8 only to find that their phones were completely useless. An unexpected outage from national provider Optus hit customers in the middle of their morning commute and continued throughout the day, throwing several systems into chaos. Businesses couldn’t process electronic payments, hospitals couldn’t answer phone calls, and public transportation was delayed. This outage affected some 10 million Australians, or around 40% of the country’s population.

Today, the outage has cost its first boss, as noted by Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, CEO of Optus. resigned on Monday following a critical report of the Australian Senate. His resignation ends a turbulent tenure at the helm of Australia’s second-largest telecommunications company, owned by Singapore Telecommunications, also known as Singtel.

Bayer Rosmarin said in a statement released by Singtel on Monday that she had had time for “personal reflection” and that her resignation was in “the best interests of Optus moving forward”.

In the statement, Singtel said Bayer Rosmarin had led Optus through a “challenging period” and that Optus had improved its financial performance and gained market share during its tenure.

Bayer Rosmarin was named CEO in April 2020 and the November 8 outage was the second national scandal under his leadership. She had spent a year as deputy general manager and was previously at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Last September, hackers violated Optus, exposing customers’ personal information in what some have described as the worst data breach in company history. The company admitted that addresses, driving licenses and passport numbers may have been exposed in the data breach. In April, 100,000 people joined a class action against Optus regarding the hack.

Then, on November 8, a breakdown has left millions of Optus mobile and internet customers without a connection. The nationwide outage began around 4 a.m. local time; connectivity to the majority of the network was not restored until around 6:00 p.m. late in the day.

A Senate inquiry found on Friday that Optus did not foresee a network-wide outage and therefore had no backup in place. Bayer Rosmarin also said on Friday that Optus had received a customer complaints approximately $282,000. The company believes that a software upgrade at its parent company, Singtel, caused the breakdown.

Singtel said it understood the need for Optus “to regain customer trust”, group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon said in a statement on Monday. “We take the events of recent weeks very seriously. We fully recognize the importance of Optus’ role in providing connectivity services to the community and the importance of network resilience and security,” he continued.

Singtel is creating a new chief operating officer role at Optus, which will be filled by the company’s former chief executive, Peter Kaliaropoulos.

Optus chief financial officer Michael Venter will take over on an interim basis at the Australian telecommunications company while the company searches globally for a new head. Like his former boss, Venter is also from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia before joining Optus in March 2021.

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