Home Blog Inspiration November 2021 How Telstra Took Me from Graduate to Strategy and Planning Leader in Just a Few Years

How Telstra Took Me from Graduate to Strategy and Planning Leader in Just a Few Years

by Smriti Kalra

Senior Strategy & Planning Lead

I started my journey with Telstra on the Telstra Graduate Program, as a Business Strategy and Investments Graduate in Networks and IT. Fresh out of university, I was given a choice to shadow and learn, or to be thrown into the deep end. I chose the latter, and to this day, the experience I gained by doing so is still paying off.

Coming from an Engineering and Finance background, my graduate program rotations were in the Mergers & Acquisitions Integration team, Productivity & Transformation team: Digitisation and Fitter and Faster Programs, and the IOT Products Enablement Technology team. Yes, it was a jam-packed graduate program!
Am I really part of a roundtable with the CEO?
Right from the moment we heard “GO” from the Early Careers Team for our first rotation, the breadth of opportunities Telstra gave us amazed me. In a company the size of Telstra, I got to contribute to a roundtable discussion with the CEO Andy Penn and organise collaboration sessions with the CFO. I also participated in Telstra Vantage, the leading telecommunication and technology conference in the Southern Hemisphere. There I was, explaining our latest IoT technology and products to prospective customers!

After the grad program, I was offered a position to roll off into the IoT Team to work on Telstra Locator and Track and Monitor. I took a deep dive into IoT technology for a couple of years, learning to develop synergies between business and technology, and how to put a business lens on technology problems and vice versa. That’s the thing: Telstra isn’t simply a ‘telecommunications’ business; it’s a tech company, and the trajectories that this offers are so much bigger than I realised before I joined.
I significantly diversified my knowledge and widened my learning curve in that first post-grad role, by working on multiple IoT based products like Connected Supply Chain & Data Hub.
I was also given opportunities to take up additional roles related to finance and product strategy in the IoT space.
Making progress
This diversity of experience, depth of technological understanding and my participation in Telstra’s productivity programs led to my next step: I was selected to be a part of the Digitisation Program in Telstra Enterprise, as a Strategy & Planning Leader.
“To provide exceptional customer experience” has always been Telstra’s strategic pillar, and it’s even more relevant now within Telstra’s T25 strategy.
In my role, I have been fundamentally focusing on digitising Telstra’s products and services, to radically transform customer and employee experiences and make Telstra an even more efficient business.
Support and recognition is always forthcoming
Telstra has always been very supportive, right from the beginning of my career as a graduate. Employees are offered a plethora of opportunities to explore at work, rewards for outstanding performance and leadership (whether you’ve been here four months or four years), and encouragement to follow passions outside of work too.
 When I joined Telstra, in truth I had absolutely no idea how quickly my career can go on a full swing. I’ve found what I love and I have made so much progress already. I am also proud to be nominated as the Brilliantly Connected Women Co-Lead for Melbourne, and a regular representative for Telstra’s Go Girls for IT. The way we’re rewarded, supported and encouraged here is so motivating. Telstra is a launchpad to fuel your ambitions and the place to be!

I can’t recommend Telstra’s graduate program highly enough! You can find all the info about it here on the Telstra website.
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