QANTAS: Announces new CEO – Vanessa Hudson
Qantas has just announced that Vanessa Hudson will replace Alan Joyce as CEO and Managing Director as of November 2023. Her appointment ends Mr Joyce’s 15-year reign as leader of the airline group.
Ms Hudson is currently the Qantas Group’s CFO. I detailed her long history with Qantas in a previous story on the internal candidates being interviewed. She has been with the company for 28 years, working as Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President for Qantas across the Americas and New Zealand, amongst other positions.
As CEO designate, she will continue her current duties, join the board, and move to her new position after the 2023 Annual General Meeting.
“It’s an absolute honour to be asked to lead the national carrier. This is an exceptional company full of incredibly talented people and it’s very well positioned for the future. My focus will be delivering for those we rely on and who rely on us – our customers, our employees, our shareholders and the communities we serve.”Vanessa Hudson – Qantas CEO designate
Chair Richard Goyder waxed lyrical about her performance during the COVID-19 period:
“For the past five years Vanessa has had a direct hand in shaping our strategy as a member of the Group Management Committee, and her handling of the finance and treasury portfolio during the COVID crisis was outstanding. She also led the fleet selection process in 2022 for the renewal of our domestic jet aircraft over the next decade.”Richard Goyder, Board Chair
Alan expected to move on earlier, delaying his move due to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
“At the Board’s request, I extended my time as CEO to see through the COVID recovery plan, so now that we’re on the other side of that crisis it’s a logical time for me to step down. There’s still a lot I want to deliver in the next six months and at the top of that list is ensuring a smooth handover to Vanessa, who I’m sure will excel in the role.”Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO
What will Alan do next? With his current millions and the tens of millions of long-term bonuses he is expected to leave with, he won’t have to work. But someone with his drive will not be idle for long. Maybe a new airline venture or perhaps some non-profit work in the LGBTQIA+ space might be in order.
Vanessa Hudson’s history with Qantas
You can see that she has moved around with Qantas occupying a series of financial and managerial roles:
- 2019 – Present: Chief Financial Officer
- 2018 – 2019: Chief Customer Officer
- 2016 – 2018: Executive Manager, Sales and Distribution
- 2013 – 2016: Senior Executive Vice President, The Americas
- 2010 – 2013: Executive Manager, Commercial Planning
- 2005 – 2010: Executive Manager, Product Services
- 2001 – 2005: General Manager, Inflight Services
- 1997 – 2001: Catering Product Manager
- 1995 – 1997: Financial Controller, Commercial Division
- 1994 – 1995: Internal Audit Supervisor
Vanessa is Sydney based, has a Bachelor of Business, and was admitted as a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1994.
Do shareholders win over customers?
I speculated in my last expression of thoughts over the company’s succession that Qantas would choose between a customer focussed future and a shareholder and financial future. It looks like they have gone with the shareholder and financial leader.
Qantas did have another option. It could have chosen Olivia Wirth, also an internal candidate. She currently heads up Qantas Loyalty and has a long history managing the customer and service side of the organisation. It will be interesting to see if she decides to stay or go. On the one hand, she heads up one of the largest loyalty programs in the country and one of the most successful. In the past, the loyalty scheme has made more profit than Qantas International operations. Having thrown her hat in the ring for the CEO job will she be satisfied with her current position?
I bet executive headhunters are putting her mobile number on speed dial as I write.
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