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News 6 Apr 2022 - 3 min read

Telstra hunts for new CMO in reshuffle; Jeremy Nicholas to lead telco’s digital channels as brands ‘defined increasingly by their customer experience’

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor
Jeremy Nicholas, Telstra

The big switch: "It’s increasingly about the inter-relationship between the different channels," says outgoing CMO Jeremy Nicholas.

Telstra’s CMO Jeremy Nicholas is making a move sideways to lead the telco’s digital sales and service channels with the search on for his replacement to lead a 300-plus marketing team. Nicholas confirmed the changes to Mi3: 80 per cent of all Telstra’s sales and service now begin online as CX increasingly builds brand equity. He sees opportunity.


What you need to know:

  • Telstra is conducting an international search for its new CMO to replace Jeremy Nicholas.
  • He's taking on a new role as Executive, Digital Channels replacing Jenni Barnett.
  • Telstra has overhauled its tech stack, mostly with Salesforce and slashed its customer plans from 1800 to 20 - they are now changed and updated similar to a software upgrade.
  • Digital customer experience is becoming increasingly important for building brand equity and business impact, Nicholas says.  

It could be the second half before Telstra’s CMO Jeremy Nicholas has a replacement and officially takes on his new role as Telstra’s Digital Channels Executive. 

The move was triggered by the resignation of Telstra’s digital boss, Jenni Barnett: Nicholas was asked by his boss, Michael Ackland, who heads Consumer & Small Business, if he wanted the role - and Nicholas did.

“The thing I’m excited about is brands are defined increasingly by their customer experience and increasingly that’s a digital experience,” he told Mi3. “It’s an important way to keep building equity in the Telstra brand and the business delivering. Eighty per cent of all our sales and service starts online and a lot it it is increasingly finishing online. It’s a great opportunity.”

Much of the early grunt work in overhauling Telstra’s legacy IT systems, customer databases and CX has been deployed under Barnett and Telstra’s T22 strategy. The telco has all but completed its customer migration to Salesforce’s CRM and Marketing Clouds while customer product plans have collapsed from 1800 to 20.

The customer overhaul began in 2019.

“There’s constant improvement that needs to be done as more and more capability gets unlocked on the new tech stack,” Nicholas said. Nicholas’ peers running call centres and retail stores were all now working off the same centralised customer database. Telstra had a true single view of customers and prospects and understood which channels they came through and how they were using a mix of contact points to deliver better service and sales.

“It’s about constant improvement,” he said. “The job is never done. It’s increasingly about the interrelationship between the different channels. Customer might go in store or online where a lot of it originates. They might call, go to a website, access via an app, go into a store to play with a phone and then buy online. Everyone finds their own path but like any business, digital is playing a central role in it.”

Nicholas said he “hadn’t walked out yet” of his CMO remit and wouldn’t until a replacement was found, which could stretch into the second half. 

Before he joined Telstra, Nicholas was the US-based global product lead for Visa on mobile payments, CEO at BMF and a strategy planner at some of the world’s top ad agencies including London’s Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury & Partners. 

Under his tenure, Telstra overhauled its marketing structure and team, evolved its brand and advertising platform and has in-housed some services including a content and creative studio which has about 60 people.    

Until he move into the new role, Vlase Paraskevopoulos would serve as interim Digital Channels boss. “Vlase is a great leader and part of the team there already,” he said.  

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