As Sensis boss Bruce Akhurst quits, who’d want his job?

It’s goodbye to Bruce Akhurst, who today stepped down as chief executive of the troubled Telstra subsidiary, Sensis.

That leaves Telstra chief, David Thodey, with a big headache: how to find an executive to turn the ailing company around before it reaches the cliff edge.

“That is a big frigging job, and it would take someone with balls to do it,” says career coach and strategist, Kelly Magowan. “But there are jobs for everyone. You think, ‘Who would want it?’, but it could serve you well.”

It’s not the job for everyone. But for an ambitious person, who is not challenged in their current role, the job would be a good progression in their career development, say Magowan, who works with her clients to develop strategies for advancement.

In fact, leading companies should not advertise such roles, says Martin Nally, managing director of an HR services company, hranywhere. “If you were to advertise, good luck with that. They might snag somebody, but [with this role] you go to a headhunter. We know who is in the marketplace.”

Many candidates would jump at the job, Nally says, however, the board must provide the candidate with a clear brief and a free hand, Nally says. “Plenty of people would say, ‘Bring it on, but don’t hamstring me – allow me the latitude to turn the company around.”

Magowan says a candidate for this kind of job should demand autonomy and an honest history. “They need to know the state of play, who is in the team, can they bring in their own trusted consultants, what has failed and what are the expectations. If they find out there are secrets and people issues, they cannot do what they are there to do.”

Expect to see more such jobs on the market, say Andrew Northcott of national recruitment firm, LSA Recruitment. “Look at the changes happening globally. Banks are offshoring work, and there is the challenge of managing that change; the public relations around it. With the cost of business in Australia, there has to be a lot of change for us to compete globally.”


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