Stephen Rue, CEO, NBN Co


Can you tell us about NBN Co?

NBN Co’s purpose is to improve the lives of Australians by lifting the digital capability of our nation. Construction of the nbn access network is one of the largest, most complex infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Australia and one of the most ambitious in any telecommunications market in the world. 

NBN Co employs 6,850 employees, manages an external workforce of some 24,000 people, and works with more than 100 Retail Service Providers (RSPs) to ensure Australians have access to fast, reliable, secure broadband wherever they choose to live and work.

What is your role at NBN Co and your responsibilities?

As NBN Co’s CEO, I’m responsible for ensuring that all our employees are clear on the mission and that together we work to deliver the company strategy. The best way we can deliver this is to be customer led – and always remember that we are connecting people not premises. 

Our people and our network need to be trustworthy, reliable and secure – every minute of every day. To earn and retain trust we know that in some areas we need to continually strive to be better. We need to turn up for customer appointments when we say we will, find and fix faults quickly, and make every attempt to exceed customer expectations.

What are some of your top priorities over the coming year or two?

My key priorities are to extend the network to every premise in Australia as soon as possible, to continually strive to improve the day to day experience of the nbn, and to create an environment where our employees can perform at their best.
As a wholesaler, I want NBN Co to get closer to retail service providers to jointly improve customer experience. Part of this is working to develop deeper customer insights so together we can better understand customer needs and behaviours, and actively seek to anticipate and therefore prepare for future needs.

In your career to date is there a particular project or outcome that you are especially proud of? Why?

I’m an optimist, so I always prefer to look forward rather than behind, and I consider my involvement in the nbn to be the most important work I’ve done in my life – and I know that most nbn employees feel the same way. I’m proud to lead a company that is delivering the biggest infrastructure project in a generation and one that will profoundly improve the future economic and social prosperity of all Australians.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about driving the ongoing transformation and maturation of NBN Co from a civil construction company to a tech company – from network builder to network operator. We’re already making our company more customer-led, agile, innovative and insight-driven.
To set this company up for success, we’ve drawn together the best IT, network and engineering talent from within Australia and around the world. We’re striving to create a network that is trusted and secure, resilient and upgradable to meet the needs of Australians now and in the future.
I wouldn’t be being honest if I didn’t say I was passionate about three other things though. I love my family – my wife and two daughters, Everton Football Club and Melbourne Storm. They give me the balance and the outlet to ensure I can give my best to NBN Co on a daily basis.

Why did NBN Co decide to become a national member of CEDA?

We’re creating a network that will connect all Australians wherever they live and work. We can’t do it alone, and we’d like to engage with CEDA and its high-profile networking and leadership forums to connect with government, not-for-profit, and business leaders across Australia.
We want to inspire and encourage a new generation of digital entrepreneurialism and we want to be part of a new wave of digital thought-leaders. We want to provoke a meaningful dialogue with others across Australia and, by working together, unlock the full social and economic benefits of the nbn for all to share.

What avenues does NBN Co plan to use to engage with CEDA, such as social media, events and research? 

All of the above. One of the greatest strengths of CEDA is that it is not limited to one form of engagement. It’s digital, it’s inter-personal and it’s collaborative and inclusive.
There are some leading lights in Australia’s digital evolution, but we need many, many more. We need more business and community leaders to take part in the public policy debate, and participate in the digital economy that will be, and must be, the foundation of Australia’s economic future.

What type of CEDA activities matter most to you?

We want to engage with and develop digital expertise across multiple areas simultaneously such as small business, health, education, tourism, property, aged care, food, beverage and agribusiness in ways that include and empower metro, regional, rural and remote Australia, thereby assisting all communities to unleash the power of their people through a national broadband network.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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