Pull your head in Theresa before someone lops it off

I note with some amusement Theresa Gattung’s comments regarding the Fletcher Building debacle in which she is alleged to have said, “If a woman had been chairing Fletchers, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Fletcher Building wouldn’t have hit its recent bout of trouble, had it had a woman in charge, one of New Zealand’s highest-profile businesswomen says.

Former Spark boss, co-founder of My Food Bag and professional director Theresa Gattung spoke on Friday at a forum discussing equal pay and gender diversity in business.

During the Q&A session, when a member of the audience asked how Sir Ralph Norris would have faced Fletcher Building’s shareholder meeting this week had he been a woman, Gattung said the construction company would never have been in poor financial state had a woman been at the helm.

“If a woman had been chairing Fletchers, that wouldn’t have happened,” she said. The room broke into a thunderous applause.

If it were said as a joke, then oh a-ha-ha-ha… nice one. I can imagine the laughter from women across the country if the gender comments were reversed.

If she meant it, I point her towards her own disastrous tenure at then Telecom, now Spark, where she led shareholders into a catastrophic investment in Australian telco AAPT, in which around two billion dollars of shareholder value was destroyed (at least twice that of Fletchers).

She was kept afloat professionally by Rod Deane but the excesses of her office are still legendary inside Spark. The personal trainers, the manicurists, the stylists and many more extravagances were the hallmark of her time at the top.

Gattung was also the CEO busted for saying famously that confusion (keep the customers confused) is a chief marketing tool and that’s OK.

Telecom’s public image may take another hit as an audio clip of Theresa Gattung circulating on the internet has the chief executive admitting to the company “not being straight up” with customers.

“Think about pricing. What has every telco in the world done in the past? It’s used confusion as its chief marketing tool. And that’s fine,” said Gattung in a speech recorded on March 20.

“You could argue that that’s how all of us keep calling prices up and get those revenues, high-margin businesses, keep them going for a lot longer than would have been the case.

“But at some level, whether they consciously articulate or not, customers know that’s what the game has been. They know we’re not being straight up.”

That’s what you get with a woman at the top: dishonesty, obfuscation and cheating.

She, of course, overlooks other female chief executive failures like Carly Fiorina or Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! Infamy.

She needs to go put her head back into her food bag and retrieve a memory or two.

Otherwise, her comments were jolly funny.


-Fairfax, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.