NBN CoFrom Build Co to Run Co: retaining talent through transformation at NBN
NBN Co is Australia’s digital backbone connecting over 8 million homes and businesses.
The challenge was to retain key leadership talent as NBN Co transitioned from Build Co to Run Co.
Leadership in Action equipped leaders at all levels to inspire their teams for future opportunities in the business.
Our program reached over 280 NBN Co leaders, with 94 per cent recommending the program to other leaders navigating transformation.
NBN Co is a unique business. It was established in 2009 to design, build and operate the NBN, Australia’s wholesale broadband access network, the largest infrastructure project in the nation’s history. This immense challenge was brought to life with the simple, motivating and galvanizing purpose ‘8 million happy homes’.
Naturally, NBN Co had to scale rapidly to meet this challenge, growing its workforce from zero to around 8000 in a few years. This was the ‘Build Co’ era as the company, a wholly government owned enterprise, raced to put on engineers, operations staff and leaders at an unprecedented rate. The natural tendency of companies that scale so quickly is for silos to emerge because it enables fast decision making on specific tasks. Leaders in such businesses tend to be highly entrepreneurial because it’s this outlook that gets things built at pace.
We stepped into the NBN Co story in 2015 when the company had reached an inflection point. Its development had become less about building the broadband network infrastructure and more about managing and wholesaling the business to the RSPs – the telcos and specialist internet providers dealing with the end users. The company was transitioning from Build Co to Run Co and the purpose was reoriented as a ‘brilliant wholesaler’ of Australia’s digital future. The adrenaline-charged days of spectacular growth had passed and the more general business mandatories of simplification, shared resources, greater efficiencies and right sizing were now at the fore.
A different type of leadership was now required in the business. NBN Co needed to right size, but at the same time did not want to lose the talented and adaptable leaders gained during the growth phase.
We worked with NBN Co’s senior, middle and frontline leaders, co-creating the solution Leadership in Action. The experience gave people the real-to-life skills around how to have difficult types of conversations, how to think differently about their business units and how to collaborate across the various business functions. Leadership in Action was a highly-experiential, activity-based program that kept the leader excited about the new challenges ahead and proud of their career with NBN Co.
Leadership in Action reached over 280 NBN Co leaders with feedback confirming it reflected and assisted in the challenges and conversations leaders were experiencing. Ninety-four per cent of participants would recommend the program to other leaders who are navigating transformation.
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