After a year of discovering who really runs Australia, The Power Index is finally set to reveal the country's fifty most powerful people.
Throughout July, Paul Barry and The Power Index team will be counting down the most influential people in the nation from business, media, politics, sport and culture.
The Power 50 / 2012
Born in: Perth
Home Town: Sydney
In just three years as Telstra chief, David Thodey’s been able to mend fences with customers and suppliers, and even with both political sides.
Now, he wants Telstra to get bigger, having recently indicated he's after "selective M&A" in three areas: Asia, cloud computing and media. Although he’s still slashing the business where needed, as he did recently when he announced the $660 million sale of the loss-making, NZ-based TelstraClear to Vodafone.
Thodey has positioned Telstra (which could easily have been left in the dark ages with the advent of the Labor government's National Broadband Network) to take advantage of Australia's largest infrastructure project in decades.
And with the help of chair Catherine Livingstone, he's negotiated a way to rid Telstra of its soon-to-be-redundant copper network, and make billions of dollars in the process.
Knowing a small miracle is required to see Labor win the next election Thodey's also playing both sides of politics. In April, he labelled the Coalition's fibre-to-the-node plans as "advantageous" to Telstra given the rollout would still permit Telstra to cash in by using its infrastructure -- perhaps even faster than via Conroy's plan.
Described as straight-up, personable and true-to-his word, the Perth-born CEO has an uncanny ability to negotiate and quietly meet every individual in any given room.
Thodey also swings his power internally, using facts and figures to back his calls on performance. If a division isn't up to scratch, he'll scratch out its leader. Still, he's managed to restructure the business -- making, at times, sweeping redundancies -- and not emerge universally hated by employees, unions and the media in the process.