Telstra's Nason, the driving force behind 'Project New', to leave telco

Project New was the telco's biggest post-privatisation change program

Telstra group executive, business support and improvement, Robert Nason, will retire, the telco announced this morning.

Nason joined Telstra in early 2010 and was charged with increasing productivity and cutting costs at the telco.

Nason led 'Project New': An initiative unveiled in September 2010 that comprised 27 programs to reduce costs — including shedding significant numbers jobs — simplify the company's processes and improve customer service.

It included the introduction of the use of Net Promoter Score (NPS) within Telstra to measure customer loyalty.

"[D]uring the period March to May, we conducted an extensive strategic and operational review of our business," Nason said at a 2010 investor day presentation outlining the initiative.

"This review concluded we should conduct a fully integrated and coordinated cross-company program to fundamentally change the business...

"In examining our cost profile, we saw that it had changed significantly in recent years, with a much greater dependence on external suppliers and the emergence of many new cost areas of the business associated with new products and new business functions as we migrated to the digital age."

There was "quite a large productivity dividend" available to Telstra and the company saw an opportunity to realise this "in a co-ordinated cross-company fashion, delivering us quite a considerable productivity prize."

Project New was the largest single change program Telstra had undertaken since it was privatised.

"No area of the company is exempt and all areas are being addressed simultaneously," Nason, said.

"There are 27 separate projects with over 500 staff involved across the business and $400 million of capital has been allocated within the current capital envelope to implement the outcomes from the activity."

"Robert has taken on many of our large, complex, difficult opportunities during the past five years and made them into strategic opportunities for Telstra and tangible benefits for our customers and shareholders," Telstra's COE David Thodey said in a statement issued today.

"He has been in tireless pursuit of waste, inefficiency and frustration to make it easier for us to do business and easier for people to do business with us.

"Robert led us to introduce NPS in July 2012 which is now embedded in the way Telstra people work to serve and delight customers. These changes have been historic in our transition."

"Telstra has made strong progress on the productivity and service agenda," Nason said.

"It has a deeply entrenched focus on improving the experience for our customers and a strong team capable of taking it forward."

Nason will depart in October.

Thodey announced earlier this year that he would leave the post of Telstra CEO in May. Thodey will be replaced by Telstra's chief financial officer, Andrew Penn.

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