CEO of Singtel-owned Optus resigns less than 2 weeks after 12 million Australians hit with 12-hour outage

Optus revealed it didn't have any contingency plans when such an outage occurred.

Belmont Lay | November 21, 2023, 12:29 PM



Singtel announced on Nov. 20, 2023, that Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the chief executive officer of its Australian subsidiary Optus, has resigned.

This occurred less than two weeks after nearly half of Australia's 26 million people were left without phone or internet for 12 hours in a nationwide outage on Nov. 8, Reuters reported.

The outage triggered fury and frustration among customers and raised concerns about the telecommunications infrastructure in the country, as calls to the police and fire department failed to connect.

Singtel said in mid-November that the failure was caused by a fault in Optus' security systems and not a routine software upgrade, as previously suspected.

Had time to reflect

Rosmarin said she chose to quit following time for personal reflection.

This was after a parliamentary hearing on Nov. 17 saw Optus executives reveal that the company had no contingency plan in place for an outage of that scale.

Rosmarin faced intense questioning in an Australian Senate inquiry hearing.

She was seen dodging questions about whether she would resign.

"Having now had time for some personal reflection, I have come to the decision that my resignation is in the best interest of Optus moving forward,” Rosmarin said in the Singtel statement.

Chief financial officer Michael Venter will take over as interim CEO, Singtel said.


Rosmarin was appointed in April 2020.

This is the second time Optus has been hit with a national incident that has tarnished the reputation of the telco giant during Rosmarin's tenure.

A massive data hack in 2022 exposed the personal data of 10 million Australians and triggered a class action lawsuit and multiple investigations from regulators.

The latest outage has led to calls for class-action lawsuits as well.

Optus has offered at least 200GB of extra data to affected customers in Australia.

The outage led to Optus being slammed for its slow response and lack of communication.

Singtel had stuck by the Optus boss following the hack, Bloomberg reported.

But the outage led to public backlash in Australia and a stock sell-off in Singapore and made Rosmarin’s position less tenable, it was also reported.

Singtel added in its statement that Rosmarin increased Optus' market share and improved financial performance during her tenure.

"We recognise the need for Optus to regain customer trust and confidence as the team works through the impact and consequences of the recent outage and continues to improve," SingTel Group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon said in a statement.

Rosmarin's personal appeal also took a hit due to her public comments.

She made remarks perceived to be "tone-deaf" when she told the Senate hearing that the telco chose to post on social media and do live media interviews and intentionally did not contact customers directly during the outage, The Straits Times reported.

She also told Nine News on the day of the outage: “I’m disappointed that a barber couldn’t do haircuts today.”

“That seems like one of the few things you can do without connectivity.”

Also, on the day of the outage, she said, “customers could’ve checked the Optus website”.

Top photos via Optus & Unsplash