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NBN Co execs must maintain strong vision and leadership

NBN Co execs must maintain strong vision and leadership

Early departures a 'normal phenomenon' in a fast-growing start-up, says recruiter

As the sun rises, so must it also set. Just as promotions inside the ranks of the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) have taken place speedily over the past year since it was formed, so have departures.

Most of NBN Co's first rank of hires over the past year — and all of its most senior executives — have remained in their seats since joining the company in its first year of operation. However, several senior staff have left the fledgling fibre company during their first year of employment.

According to publicly available records on social networking site LinkedIn and other records, several of the staff who have left NBN Co over the past year came from its project management ranks. NBN Co didn't respond to a request for comment on the matter, and several staff who were contacted directly declined to comment on their employment at NBN Co or why they left.

One executive, for example, who has a history of employment at IBM and now manages a team at the company, was employed at NBN Co for less than a year to aid in the delivery of projects. Another was a senior manager at NBN Co who has since taken a similar position at IT services giant Accenture.

A third executive, with a history in the telecommunications sector, spent more than six months at the fledgling fibre giant as a program manager before taking a similar position at another company. And one executive was listed as managing a project management office at NBN Co before leaving to take a senior position at another company.

None were the heads of any of NBN Co's divisions or at a top executive level. They were, however, generally at a senior level within the company with a degree of responsibility for the delivery of initiatives within NBN Co.

Half a dozen staff working in the project management area at NBN Co have left over the past year, according to a search of social networking sites. Others have left from areas as diverse as HR, business analysis and software integration.

Peter Acheson, the chief executive of IT recruiter at PeopleBank, said that early departures was a normal phenomenon in a fast-growing start-up like NBN Co.

"What you get is people who go into the organisation with an expectation that it's X, and when they get there it's Y — different from what they expected," he said, noting that people might have seen the opportunity as a chance to get ahead, but changed their mind once they were in the company.

"The start-up's moving so quickly. When you're in it, it's very difficult to explain to people what the culture is like," he said.

Acheson said there were several important practices that the management implement straight away as a company starts growing for a start-up like NBN Co. To start with, he said, company-wide induction processes that could help to get everyone on board with new company values were important.

And, as the priorities of a project like the NBN were constantly changing, it would be important for the start-up to have regular, company-wide communications processes — roughly each month — so that senior management could keep staff up to date on what the critical imperatives were over the next three months. There are a "whole host of good multimedia technologies" that could help with that, Acheson said.

It is also important that management have good people leadership skills — recognising that the company would be constantly changing, managers should walk the floors constantly, keep people up to date, celebrate major achievements and so on.

So far, NBN Co hasn't suffered much of an exodus; there have been no early top-level executive departures nor significant leaks of internal trouble. Acheson thinks that indicates the company's leaders have created a strong vision and company culture.

"Things are so fluid and moving so quickly — and so dynamic. The only thing people can hang onto is what the vision," he said.

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