Telus Corp. CEO Darren Entwistle spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade on September 17. An edited version of his speech appears below. The full version can be found here. In the space of two and half years we have created a truly national company. In central and eastern Canada we have gone from zero to $2 billion in revenues and from zero to 5,300 employees. In terms of brand awareness, in the past year in the Quebec business market alone we have jumped from 29 to 73 per cent. Today Telus is the only viable national, integrated alternative to Bell, and we have strong momentum in the marketplace. Telus’ business model is a pure play in the telecom sector and all of our growth investments have been dedicated to expanding our core businesses in the Canadian market, where we feel that there is significant potential. We set out on this path two years ago when our peers were diversifying into non-telecoms businesses and investing internationally. It is noteworthy that today our peers are retrenching from their diversification plans and refocusing on their core businesses with a renewed dedication to their domestic markets. While the difficult market conditions and regulatory decisions add a measure of urgency to our actions, our work really began a year ago. We took a hard look at our business to find out how Telus’ performance stacked up against other companies in our industry—and what we could do to improve it. What we found is that Telus is not performing as efficiently as many of our North American peers, and that we need to use our resources and our capital much more efficiently. It became clear that we had not fully captured the synergies related to the merger of Alberta-based Telus and BC Tel in 1999. It was clear that the opportunity for improvement at Telus was immense. Eliminating the inefficiencies that we have identified will contribute $500 million to our operating income. If that is not a business case for change, I do not know what is. Today our operational efficiency program is well underway. We will be reducing our staff by some 6,000 positions, which will be achieved largely through industry-leading early retirement and voluntary departure packages. The incentive packages recognize the important contribution of our team members. Our desire is to reach our target staff reductions without having to resort to layoffs. Finally, I would like to share some of the challenges Telus is experiencing in effecting change in our collective agreement with our union. What is Telus looking for in a collective agreement? Simply put, three things: flexibility, productivity, and a meritocracy. Given our ever changing regulatory, technological and competitive environments, increased flexibility in our collective agreement has become a necessity. Flexibility is also key in allowing us to anticipate and respond to the needs of our customers. In some instances, our performance and service levels today are being constrained by contract language that stretches back to the 1950s. In the meantime, technology, and our customer needs, have continued to evolve at a staggering pace. One of the most effective ways to maximize team productivity is through variable pay. Linking a portion of compensation to individual and group performance helps to engage employees and encourage an entrepreneurial mindset. Today we have variable pay in our Alberta bargaining unit but it is yet to find its way into the compensation of our B.C. unionized employees. I consider it important that every Telus team member clearly understands the link between their performance and that of the company. When Telus does well, every team member should share in the rewards. When the company faces challenges, each team member must bear a degree of responsibility for turning the situation around. Further to this, I believe the most equitable way to compensate and promote employees is based upon their abilities, behaviours and results. To use seniority as the sole basis for rewarding and promoting team members does a disservice to Telus, our employees and our customers.