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New boss for Telecom Cook Islands

Tuesday June 17, 2014 Written by Published in Technology
John Proctor with members of the Telecom Cook Islands team, Shane Andrews (far left), Helen Aoina and Marisa Summers (far right). 14061706 John Proctor with members of the Telecom Cook Islands team, Shane Andrews (far left), Helen Aoina and Marisa Summers (far right). 14061706

Telecom Cook Islands has appointed a temporary chief executive, who says his role is about much more than just “steadying the ship”. 

John Proctor arrived in Rarotonga this week to take on the leadership role, which has been vacant since Jules Maher stepped down in early May.

Proctor comes to Telecom Cook Islands after five years at Telecom New Zealand, where he has held senior positions. 

His appointment comes during a time of great uncertainty for the company, with majority shareholder Telecom NZ currently entertaining three offers.

Proctor said it is natural for staff to feel unsettled right now and he acknowledged that part of his job is to provide some stability.

“I’ve already had a lot of questions. They just want some certainty about what that means and where it’s going.”

He said he does not know how long it will take for Telecom NZ to reach a decision on its 60 per cent share sale – either to Digicel or either of two locally-led consortiums.

In the meantime however, “the company has to keep on going”, Proctor said.

Although he has only been here since Sunday, Proctor has been quickly impressed by Telecom’s innovation, experienced team, and achievements across a vast geographical area.

He said the board’s investment over the past few years – in technology like O3b fast internet and 3G mobile internet – is exciting and his goal is to build on that investment.

“This year is about consolidating those investments and making them available to all of the Cook Islands. Finding the best way for customers to use the facilities and at the same time, for some people, it’s discovering what these things do.”

Temu Okotai, Chair of the TCI Board, said it was important to bring in someone like Proctor to oversee the running of the company until its future ownership structure is clear.

“We thought it was unfair on staff at Telecom, especially senior management, to be asked to carry on with their tasks during this unsettling period.”

Okotai said it is impossible to say how long Proctor will be in the role for, given the current situation.

“It could be two or three or four months. A further complication is with the election,” he said.

Proctor’s “extensive” project-management experience will be a big help during this time. 

Another reason it is important to have a new leader is because members of the senior management team are part of one of the bidding consortiums.

“We’re mindful that Telecom Cook Islands always has to be transparent. We wanted someone who will be seen as uninvolved in the bids to get us through this period.” 

Like Proctor, Okotai said a lot of consolidation work needs to be done following the O3b and 3G launches earlier this year.

“We want these bedded down properly because we don’t envisage Telecom going backwards.”

Proctor said he has “absolutely no view” on or preference for which company is chosen to become the new majority shareholder.

His only involvement in the process will be to provide information to the three bidders during the period of due diligence, he said.

Originally from the UK, Proctor moved to New Zealand in 1989 where he is married with two children.

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