Telstra CIO John Romano departs

John Romano leaves behind a lengthy career at the telco

Telstra’s chief information officer John Romano has left the organisation.

“I can confirm that our Chief Information Officer and Executive Director Digitisation, John Romano, left Telstra on 9 March,” a Telstra spokesperson told Computerworld.
“We will commence the search for a permanent replacement. Chief Technology Officer Hakan Eriksson, an accomplished leader during his time with Ericsson including as CEO Australia and New Zealand, will act as CIO in addition to his responsibilities.”

The Telstra veteran was appointed CIO and chief digital officer in 2016. Romano held a string of roles at the telco over more than two and a half decades. They included leading the Telstra Property Group and director of wireless engineering.

Romano replaced Erez Yarkoni as CIO. Yarkoni departed in late 2016. “After developing and leading the refreshed IT strategy, and realigning the IT operating model Erez has made the decision to move permanently back to the US to join his family,” a spokesperson for the telco said at the time.

Yarkoni had joined Telstra in 2013 as head of the company’s cloud business before taking on the CIO role in February 2015 following the departure of Patrick Eltridge.

Former Telstra CIO John Romano (left)
Former Telstra CIO John Romano (left)

As CIO, Romano has been spearheading a major digitisation push by Telstra as part of a $3 billion investment program that also encompasses network improvements and customer experience.

The digitisation program has four key pillars, as outlined in 2016 by Telstra CEO Andy Penn: Delivering digital experiences to customers as well as employees, the roll out of digital platforms, and “digital ways of working”.

“It’s all about how do we deliver that customer experience uplift — and how we enable our people to deliver that uplift to customers,” Romano told Computerworld in an interview conducted in January.

The digitisation program has been underpinned by increased internal use of cloud by the telco and a move to Agile work practices as part of an ongoing cultural transformation across Telstra.

“If you look at the history of companies that have tried to digitise their business, some succeed and some fail,” Romano told Computerworld. “It doesn’t work if you don’t have the business and technology teams together, so it’s really a cultural shift.”

Romano said Telstra has learned both from its history as well as the experience of other large enterprises around the world. “It can’t be technology-driven – it has to be business- and customer-led but coming together with the technology,” the CIO said.

“Everything we do when we set up our teams on these digital platforms is targeted towards the customer – what they receive, how they interact.”

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