Starting his career as a lawyer and working in senior positions for some of Australias largest technology providers, Ted Pretty has extensive experience within the telecommunications and IT sector. I started life as a lawyer and finished my career as a regulatory lawyer in the telecommunication and technology sectors, he says. I then joined the board of Optus when it was first created. Following that, I was a senior executive with Telstra for eight and a half years.
I ran most of the divisions inside Telstra from retail to the internet business, through to product and technology, and I was the chairman of Sensis for quite a number of years. I then had a brief period with Macquarie Bank in the telco and mediaentertainment sector, which involved a short stint working in the Middle East. I then came back to Australia and was sitting on the board of NEXTDC and also investing in a number of technology companies.
Ted was then approached by a member of the Hills Holdings board to take over the role of CEO and restructure the company. I was the first CEO appointed who hadnt grown up in the business. The prior CEO was the family CEO, Bob Hill-Ling, who retired. There were two CEOs in the interim, but they had been with the company for a very long time and had grown up with it, whereas I was the first person to parachute into the business who came from a different industry background in technology.
Hills Holdings was 67 years old when I joined, and it was a diversified holding company. It bought many businesses across the construction sector, the lifestyle and leisure sector, as well as electronics and communications. But the desire was to focus more on electronics and communications and exit some of these other industries. So instead of being a holding company, it would be far more of an integrated operating company.