Telstra CEO Andy Penn faces more angry customers after yet another outage. Photo: Jesse Marlow Illustration: John Shakespeare
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May 1 marked Andy Penn’s first anniversary in the top job at Telstra.

And he was obviously hoping to clean the slate after an unprecedented series of mobile network outages in recent months that has left its 17 million mobile phone customers wondering why they were paying a gold-plated premium for what is proving to be a tinny service.

“Over the past five to six years we have done a lot to improve customer service,” he told a business lunch on Thursday. Thx @AmChamAU and @CEO_AmChamAU for invite to speak on my passion – using tech to transform the customer experience https://t.co/CFZSvMIsK0— Andrew Penn (@andy_penn) May 19, 2016

On Friday, Telstra’s broadband services decided to take the baton and disrupt customers across Australia. Where will it end?

Add in a share price that has dropped a few billion dollars of shareholder value from the telco, and it makes you wonder just how the Andy experiment is working out for Telstra.

The raft of network failures raises questions as to whether Telstra is looking at a Vodafail level of catastrophe – a reference to the network failures at Vodafone that led to an exodus of customers and saw the telco become a national punch line.

Penn’s board members, and fellow investors, will be under no illusions that the golden run enjoyed by Penn’s predecessor, David Thodey, is over.

The question is whether he can turn things around. One thing is for certain, the obsessive and driven Penn will not be enjoying this one bit.

“What I do do, I like to do really well, and I spend a fair bit of time thinking hard about it,” he said in an interview just before he stood down from his CEO role at AXA ahead of its $14.6 billion takeover by AMP.

“I wouldn’t enjoy it if you are stuffing it up.”

Despite a $17 million pay out from AXA – making him the highest paid executive in Australia’s financial industry that year – Penn was never going to retire to his garage to polish the beloved Aston Martin, or spend more time fly fishing.

He wanted another CEO role and showed up at Telstra after a short break.

It nearly didn’t happen, of course.

In 2005, APRA nearly stopped Penn’s career in its tracks after it sought to have him disqualified as a trustee director after a dispute over the management of AXA’s staff superannuation fund.

Several trustee directors were involved in the case that centred on changes made to benefits in 2002 and 2003 without the fund’s members being consulted.

Penn stepped aside as CEO of AXA’s Australian operations and was given a strategy job while AXA fought the case through the courts.

The company won out, APRA was admonished and the proposed ban overturned.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.