07 September 2020
Melbourne city view from park

In today’s blog post we chat with Rosemary Sinclair AM, CEO of .au Domain administration (auDA) about her communications industry journey, .au stakeholder engagement, and the importance of being online. Rosemary shares her perspective on meeting flexibility and innovation in all aspects of business and highlights her team’s commitment to delivering a robust .au namespace in an evolving landscape.

Afilias: Let’s start with a brief overview of your background. Have you always been in the communications industry?

Rosemary: I have been in a variety of communications and operations based roles spanning across a variety of industries. One interesting fact is that I have been in the communications field since the time when you had to ring a telephone operator to make a phone call to rural areas or overseas! I experienced much of this first hand at Telecom Australia as we went from analogue to computerised telephone exchanges, and it has been a very interesting journey. It was all so very new at the time and the whole world was learning about this new technology together. Having since worked for the ABC, Scholastic and Energy Consumers Australia, while holding various Board and Committee roles in the communications, education and energy sectors, it seems that I’ve always wound up in roles with a focus on digital disruption and enabling technologies to drive enormous change. 

Afilias: Congratulations on receiving your Order of Australia, AM. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

Rosemary: I received this recognition because of my work in the telecommunications sector. A big part of this work was helping to develop Australia’s mobile and broadband services and engaging with the development of those services in regional Australia. On the day that I received my order I was amazed by the orders that were being awarded for people who had put themselves in grave danger to help other people, which was really inspiring, and contributed to making it a very memorable occasion.

Afilias: What attracted you to apply for the role of CEO at auDA?

Rosemary: I was a non-executive Director on the auDA Board for two years from 2009-2011 so I understood the importance of auDA’s work. What we do is at the forefront of a range of developments that are important for the community which is essentially what attracted me to the role and still motivates me 7 months on. COVID-19 has given everybody a sense of just how important the internet is for so many aspects of society in the way we run our lives and businesses. When I applied for the role it was very clear to me that the internet is a modern utility and I was interested in contributing to its development. It’s a complex role in stakeholder engagement and an enormous responsibility. The company’s core purpose is to manage the Australian domain name service and ensure that from both a platform and policy perspective, we are meeting the needs of the entire community. I really enjoy this aspect of stakeholder engagement and I am impressed at the range of perspectives brought to the table at auDA.

Afilias: Can you share some details of the drivers and aspirations for auDA’s current .com.au campaign?

Rosemary: We are starting to see the shift of Australian small businesses as they move online and the changes to the economy this brings, so we wanted to emphasise startup and entrepreneur opportunities, and we thought we could lean into that and help by promoting com.au because it’s a very trusted space. The three messages that we are focusing on is that a .com.au domain name is local and represents Australian businesses, that it is verified by having a requirement of an ABN/ACN license and that it is trusted for Australians above other commercial namespaces.

Afilias: And what do you think this shift means for the future of small businesses?

Rosemary: I think what we are seeing is that all small businesses now understand the importance of having an online presence. People have been extremely innovative during the pandemic, and I am hoping that these innovations don’t go away. We have a favourite local restaurant and for Mother’s Day they offered a takeaway feast and being able to collect these goodies to take home was much more preferable than preparing my own dinner! If we weren’t in this circumstance the restaurant most likely wouldn’t have offered this, which shows how innovations have expanded opportunities and revenue streams in meeting customer needs.

Afilias: It sure has. How has the pandemic changed the way auDA works?

Rosemary: I think the two most obvious changes for auDA is first that we are working remotely. Thankfully, we had prepared for this by completing work on business continuity and disaster recovery which meant that we were in good shape for this change. Second, we have been very mindful of people’s wellbeing and making sure their home office setup is suitable so that they are comfortable in their environment.

I’m really proud of the team because we have been able to maintain pace and get on with big ticket items like the .com.au campaign and developing the policy framework. The team has shown that it is possible to work through this crisis and still be productive.

Afilias: Speaking of innovation, what are your views on direct registration? What type of value do you think it will add to the .au namespace?

Rosemary: I think it's all about more choice. At the moment, we have a particular set of namespaces and I think as the economy changes and more of the community wants to have an online presence .au will be able to meet those needs with an opportunity to do business that they didn’t have before. The introduction of second level .au names is a response to the consumer demand and as expectations and needs change it is important that .au keeps up with that.

Afilias: And finally, what is your vision for auDA?

Rosemary: My overarching vision is that auDA is the trusted administrator for Australia’s domain name system that can accommodate new opportunities. My vision can be broken into three core elements:

  • Demonstrating technical excellence to deliver a secure, stable and reliable platform
  • Creating opportunities to listen to and engage with stakeholders
  • Developing dynamic, flexible policies that respond to and meet the needs of Australian internet users.

In summary, I hope to contribute to an auDA that continues to meet the needs of the economy and community by being able to support more services and activities as they move online.

Afilias: Thanks so much for your time Rosemary, it has been great learning about your passion for stakeholder engagement and your exposure to digital disruption. As your registry partner, Afilias looks forward to our continued work together, and we can see that auDA is very fortunate to have you on board.

Rosemary: Thank you very much, it has been a pleasure.

Have a question, comment or idea for a future blog post? Email us at blog@afilias.com.au today.