Telstra’s Robyn Denholm to leave telco for Tesla

Telstra CFO appointed chair of carmaker’s board

Telstra has announced that its chief financial officer, Robyn Denholm, will leave the telco. Denholm will take on the role of chairperson of the board of electronic vehicle-maker Tesla, Telstra said in a statement to the ASX.

At Tesla, Denholm replaces Elon Musk as chair of the company’s board, which Denholm has served on since 2014.

“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” Denholm said.

“Her global experience in both Australia and Silicon Valley encompasses leadership roles across a range of technology companies, including Telstra, Juniper Networks, and Sun Microsystems,” a statement from Tesla said.

“She is widely credited with leading a team that drove significant increases in Juniper’s revenues, overseeing Juniper’s corporate transformation during her nine-year tenure as Chief Financial and Operations Officer. Her experience also includes numerous finance management roles in the automotive industry while at Toyota.”

“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” Musk said.

“I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”

Denholm joined Telstra in January 2017 as chief operations officer, replacing Kate McKenzie.

In July this year the telco revealed she would take on the CFO role as part of the T22 restructure which saw the exit of the previous chief financial officer, Warwick Bray.

Denholm will leave Telstra in May 2019. She will take on the Tesla chair role from 13 November, though Telstra said in a statement that during the crossover period “Tesla will be asking another Board Director to support Robyn by taking on the majority of her Chairman responsibilities”.

“We are sorry to see Robyn leave Telstra,” Telstra CEO Andy Penn said. “We know that it has become increasingly difficult to balance her responsibilities as Telstra CFO with the increased activity of the Tesla Board.”

“We are undertaking a search for a new Chief Financial Officer and will provide an update on a replacement appointment as soon as possible,” the CEO said.

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