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Telstra’s CTO Vish Nandlall outed as passing off himself as a PhD

Melbourne, June 4: Last month, Telstra refused to comment on sacking of the company’s Chief Technology Officer Vish Nandlall for falsifying his CV, but confirmed his departure from the company, only after 21 months of his appointment.

It has been reported that Nandlall also falsely claimed to have an MBA from Harvard. The speculation of Nandlall’s sack due to evidence that he falsified his CV was not confirmed by Telstra.

It has now emerged, as revealed by Fairfax, that Nandlall was passing himself off as a qualified PhD for years, including while he worked at Telstra.

This inaccurate title was also used by Nandlall, when he worked for his previous companies, Ericsson, North America and the now non-operational Nortel Networks, Canada.

Internet is rife with references of “Dr Vish Nandlall” and “Vish Nandlall, PhD” in conference programs, video interviews, and presentation slides. Many of these appear to have authored and uploaded, by Nandlall himself, according to Fairfax.

A probable revelation to the very little character scrutiny done by many of the large corporations, many references of “Dr Vish Nandlall” appear in documents and footage alongside company logos of Telstra, Ericsson, Nortel and the Telecommunications Industry Association. Fairfax found some references going back to even 2008.

In a 2013 Competitive Carriers Association Annual convention, Nandlall is said to have even been introduced on stage as a doctor, by CCA president Steven K. Berry.

Meanwhile, Nandlall’s posts on the Telstra Exchange Blog have been removed by the company.

 

The Prolific Inventor

In 2015, Nandlall played a vital role alongside CEO Andrew Penn, in the launch of Telstra’s Gurrowa Innovation Lab in Melbourne.

Nandlall had said that Gurrowa Innovation Lab would “take the world’s smartest people, put them in a facility, remove all friction … and you create a market”.

Nandlall also describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a “prolific inventor” and lists several telecommunications patents that he holds.

Talking to ZDNet in August 2015, Nandlall spoke of innovation as a broadly used word, which thus, led to confusion of “the word for the thing itself.

“When technology is uncertain and markets are highly uncertain, you need something to be a forcing function to catalyse the invention of that industry,” Nandlall had explained.

“Most practitioners of innovation don’t use the word innovation,” Nandlall had claimed, at the Knowledge Nation 2016 summit in Sydney in April.

 

The Distinguished Engineer

It is indeed sad that this prolific and apparently brilliant innovator fell to crafted biographical errors, fashioned by himself.

Nandlall, born in Guyana as Vishwamitra, moved to Canada with his family, when he was six months old.

Nandlall’s brilliance in electronics was apparent even as a young recruit at Canadian telco Nortel Networks, just as a new graduate.

A senior manager at a global telecommunications company, who worked with Nandlall at Nortel, described him as an “extraordinary” individual who “stood out right away”.

“He made the entire team better. You just occasionally get these guys where the uniqueness of their skill and their ability to translate that skill into the performance of a team has a profound impact,” the source told Fairfax.

“Talent-wise, I can assure you there’s no issue [with Nandlall]. He’s a very capable guy whom I would love to have on any team. I would act as a reference for him again based on the work he’s done for us.”

Nandlall was eventually promoted as CTO at Nortel and was recognised as a Distinguished Engineer at Nortel.

Later Nandlall moved to Ericsson as its CTO and head of strategy and marketing for North America and then came to Australia to work for Telstra as its CTO, under former chief executive David Thodey.

An internal, senior source at Telstra talking to Fairfax, described Nandlall as a “visionary”, a “big picture thinker” and “one of the top five respected CTOs in the industry”.

“I thought that he was doing a fantastic job at executing the changes that Telstra needs to go through to become a world-class technology company.”

But those changes left some staffers who were sidelined in the shake-up with an “axe to grind” against Nandlall, the source said.

Telstra recently appointed Canada based, former Nokia and Microsoft executive Stephen Elop, who Nandlall was reporting to, at the time of his departure.

 

The Truth of the CV

Nandlall on his way back to Ottawa, Canada, told Fairfax he was aware of “some elements” in his 20-year online history containing “biographical errors” that were “honest mistakes by myself, well-meaning content designers and media handlers”.

“These errors are not present in my resume, nor have they been part of any job applications,” Nandlall told Fairfax.

“In balance, these incidents represent a very small minority … While some have since been corrected, I regret that they were not all addressed as a matter of course.”

Nandlall himself was quoted saying that ‘he had left Telstra for personal reasons and that his CV is accurate’, according to CRN.

It is believed that Nandlall’s CV supplied to Telstra lists only Bachelor of Science engineering from the University of New Brunswick, Canada, which has been verified to be true. There is no mention of a Harvard MBA.

His resume available on LinkedIn makes no mention of a Harvard degree and only lists his experience and industry credentials.

Nandlall told Fairfax reasons of his departure were “private and confidential”.

In the end, it can be safely said that Nandlall was a brilliant CTO and Networking expert that Telstra marvelled at.

Question is whether, Nandlall’s brilliance and world-class expertise should have taken priority over “biographical errors” that were “honest mistakes” made by him, in this decision of Telstra?

Ramakrishna VenuGopal

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