Optus appoints former NBN boss Stephen Rue as the company’s new CEO

Optus has announced NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue has been appointed as the company’s new CEO after an extensive internal and external international search.

He will take up his new position in November 2024.

Michael Venter will continue as interim CEO until Rue takes up his new position.

Rue has just announced his resignation from his position as NBN Co Chief Executive Officer after almost a decade with the company, including the last six as CEO.

The appointment was announced as Optus introduced a new governance model for decentralised operation and company-driven structure which means Rue and Optus executives will report to the Optus board  instead of the Singapore-based Singtel Group.

 “Stephen was chosen after a rigorous process that involved a slate of high-quality candidates,” says Optus Chairman Paul O’Sullivan.

“We’re extremely pleased to have someone of his calibre to lead the next chapter at Optus.

“His experience in setting up the digital backbone of Australia will serve us well as we reinvigorate Optus as Australia’s leading challenger telecommunications brand.

“We expect Stephen’s operational and financial background to lift service standards significantly for the benefit of our customers.”

 Stephen Rue said: “I’m honoured and excited to be given the opportunity to lead Optus, a company that has strived to serve Australians for over two decades.

“Optus’ continuous investments in critical infrastructure through the years has resulted in an extensive 5G network that is being strengthened in regional Australia.

“My job will be to take care of Optus’ customers, people and business and to provide strong competition and choice.

“I look forward to accelerating the transformation at Optus so fellow Australians continue to have the choice of a strong alternative telecoms provider and the country as a whole can harness the power of digital connectivity to drive economic participation and social inclusion.”

Rue’s appointment comes six months after the resignation of previous CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin who was at the Optus helm after the massive data breach in September 2022 and the worst tele communications outage in Australian history in November 2023.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin resigned as Optus CEO in November 2023

During his time at NBN Co, Rue oversaw a significant period of growth and transformation, overseeing the rollout of the NBN, expanding broadband access to millions of Australians around the country and enhancing the nation’s digital backbone.

“Stephen has consistently delivered against challenging targets and has fostered a strong culture of purpose, innovation, collaboration and excellence within the company,” says Kate McKenzie, NBN Co Chair.

“Under his leadership, NBN completed the initial build of the network on time in December 2020, reached the milestone of connecting more than 8.5 million homes and businesses; and set the company on the next phase of its journey to become a fully operational customer focused company.

“NBN is making significant progress in upgrading the network, increasing the availability of higher speeds, and providing greater capacity and reliability – all to lift the digital capability of Australia.

“I thank him for his commitment to NBN and wish him well in his future role.”

Outgoing NBN CEO Stephen Rue said:  “It has been an enormous privilege to work alongside a talented team dedicated to connecting Australians to high-quality broadband services across the country.

“We are transforming Australia’s digital landscape, connecting millions of homes and businesses to high-speed broadband, and laying the foundation for future innovation and data growth.

“And we have delivered fast and reliable broadband to even the most remote areas of Australia, continuously working to bridge the digital divide, lifting the digital capability of our nation and empowering communities.”

Before joining the NBN in July 2014, Rue was Chief Financial Officer at News Corp, served as chairman of a few boards including Foxtel, RWA Group and Australian Associated Press.

Rue was also chairman of the Melbourne Storm rugby league club.

Rue was born in Dublin, Ireland and emigrated to Australia in 1991.

As NBN Co CEO, Rue was Australia’s highest paid public servant with a salary of $3.1m including annual bonuses of more than $1m.