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Published on November 8th, 2018 | by Dr. Maximilian Holland

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More Background On New Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm

November 8th, 2018 by  


As reported earlier today, Tesla has announced the appointment of Robyn Denholm to the chair of the board at Tesla, replacing Elon Musk who has been in the role since 2004. Denholm had already been an independent director on Tesla’s board since 2014 and has decades of experience in senior finance and strategy roles at auto, technology, and software companies.

The appointment follows Tesla’s recent settlement with the SEC, which set a timeline for putting in place an independent chair, whilst Musk remains in the role of CEO and largest investor at Tesla. Since January 2017, Denholm has been engaged as Chief Operations Officer of Telstra Corporation, and will transition out of that role and into the Tesla Chair role full time over the next 6 months.

Below, we highlight a few more aspects of Denholm’s career and invite your input on this change at the top.

Robyn Denholm

Denholm has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in commerce. She started her career at accountants Arthur Anderson & Co (1984–1989) before moving to Toyota Australia (1989–1996) in finance and corporate reporting roles.

She was with Sun Microsystems between 1996 and 2007 in finance and strategic planning roles, moving from the Australia offices to the US in 2001. Previous to her recent 2 years as COO at Telstra, from 2007 to 2016, Denholm was with Juniper Networks in the roles of CFO and COO.

As well as serving on the board at Tesla since 2014, she also served on the board of Swiss electrical equipment multinational ABB from 2016 to 2017, a notable cleantech leader in various ways.

Denholm has extensive experience in both finance and corporate strategy, areas of discipline that will be key to Tesla maintaining its lead in the energy transition in the coming years. Denholm’s strengths should prove complementary to Musk’s vision, creativity, and technological engineering talents.

Denholm released the following statement:

“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”

Musk added:

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

What do you think of the appointment? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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About the Author

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona.



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