Jorge Fernandes, group chief technology officer at Optus' parent company Singtel, has been tapped to temporarily step into the vacant role until a replacement is found.

Gigi Onag, Senior Editor, APAC

March 11, 2024

3 Min Read
Optus store in a mall in Australia
(Source: Takatoshi Kurikawa/Alamy Stock Photo)

Optus, Australia's second-largest telco provider, has lost its networks head in the second high-profile executive resignation in the aftermath of the 16-hour outage in November that affected 10 million customers and disabled communications systems across the country.

Lambo Kanagaratnam, who served Optus for nine years and as managing director of networks since July 2023, resigned on Friday. Interim CEO Michael Venter announced his departure in an internal memo to the staff obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The newspaper revealed that the memo does not contain details on the reason for the executive's exit, only stating that Kanagaratnam "has made the decision that the time is right for him to leave Optus."

"Lambo has helped our teams navigate through some uniquely challenging major natural disasters ranging from cyclones, floods and fires as well as responding to the complexities that COVID and the recent outage presented for our customers and Network teams.

"Personally, I have the highest regard for Lambo as someone who consistently demonstrates the characteristics that we all know him for. He is calm under pressure, approachable, cares deeply about our people and our business and is always professional,'' said Ventner in the memo.

Related:Optus takes another reputational hit with AUS$1.5M fine over breach of public safety rules

He added that Jorge Fernandes, group chief technology officer at Optus' parent company Singtel, has been tapped to temporarily step into the vacant role until a replacement is found.

Executive fallout

Kanagaratnam, along with former Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, appeared before the Australian Senate inquiry into the network outage on November 17, admitting that the telco operator was surprised at the scale and the size of the outage.

"We didn't have a plan in place for that specific scale of outage. I think it was unexpected," Kanagaratnam told the Senate. "We will take such exercises into consideration in the future."

Bayer Rosmarin resigned from the company soon after the Senate hearing on November 20, saying that her resignation is "in the best interest of Optus moving forward".

Optus CFO Ventner was then put in charge in her place on an interim basis.

Bayer Rosmarin's departure was followed by that of Optus' corporate and public affairs director, Sally Oelerich, who left the company in January. Kanagaratnam is the third senior executive to leave the company in the wake of the network outage allegedly caused by a botched software upgrade.

Optus is facing an uphill climb to win back public trust in the wake of the network meltdown as well as the massive data breach discovered in September 2022, compromising the personal data of as many as 10 million customers.

Early this month, the country's communications and media watchdog fined $1.5 million Australian dollars (US$980,316) for large-scale breaches of public safety rules. It is now being tasked to seek an independent review of its IPND (Integrated Public Number Database) compliance where it uses a third-party data provider.


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About the Author(s)

Gigi Onag

Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading

Gigi Onag is Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading. She has been a technology journalist for more than 15 years, covering various aspects of enterprise IT across Asia Pacific.

She started with regional IT publications under CMP Asia (now Informa), including Asia Computer Weekly, Intelligent Enterprise Asia and Network Computing Asia and Teledotcom Asia. This was followed by stints with Computerworld Hong Kong and sister publications FutureIoT and FutureCIO. She had contributed articles to South China Morning Post, TechTarget and PC Market among others.

She interspersed her career as a technology editor with a brief sojourn into public relations before returning to journalism joining the editorial team of Mix Magazine, a MICE publication and its sister publication Business Traveller Asia Pacific.

Gigi is based in Hong Kong and is keen to delve deeper into the region’s wide wild world of telecoms.

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