Optus CEO Resigns Amidst National Outage and Data Breach Crisis

Following a nationwide outage that severed mobile and internet services for almost half of Australia on November 8, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the Chief Executive Officer of Optus, has announced her resignation. The outage, lasting over 12 hours, added to the challenges faced by Rosmarin, which also grappled with the aftermath of a significant data breach last year affecting over 10 million individuals.

In her official statement, Rosmarin acknowledged the complexities of her tenure and expressed that stepping down was in the best interests of Optus moving forward. While Chief Financial Officer Michael Venter assumes the interim role, the company initiates the search for a permanent CEO.

Despite criticism over her response to the outage, Rosmarin received acknowledgement from Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of Optus’s Singaporean parent company. Moon recognised her efforts during a demanding period, noting improvements in financial performance despite her appointment coinciding with the onset of the pandemic. However, he also emphasised the need for Optus to rebuild customer trust, understanding Rosmarin’s decision to resign.

The nationwide outage, disrupting communication for 10 million Australians, resulted in widespread consequences, including transport delays, hospital phone line disruptions, payment system shutdowns, and the inability of around 200 individuals to contact emergency services. Rosmarin faced additional scrutiny during a Senate hearing, where she revealed that thousands of Australians were pursuing compensation from the telecom provider.

Complicating matters, Optus is currently entangled in a class-action lawsuit involving over 100,000 current and former customers related to the data breach in September 2022. This breach, characterized as the most severe in Australian history at the time, prompted allegations that Optus negligently left vulnerabilities open to cyber threats, a sentiment echoed by the Minister for Cyber Security.

As Optus grapples with these multifaceted challenges, Rosmarin’s resignation marks a pivotal moment in the company’s trajectory, signalling a commitment to addressing customer trust issues and mitigating the fallout from recent operational disruptions and security lapses.