Qantas CFO Vanessa Hudson to take over as CEO

(IMAGE: Shutterstock)

The Qantas Group has announced Vanessa Hudson will become the next CEO and managing director, taking over from Alan Joyce when he retires in November 2023. Hudson is currently the group’s chief financial officer and has worked in a number of executive positions across the group over 28 years, including chief customer officer and senior vice president for Qantas across the Americas and New Zealand.

Vanessa Hudson

Hudson will continue in her current role while also being CEO designate and joining the board, before taking over as the company’s 13th CEO in 103 years following the 2023 annual general meeting. An announcement on a new CFO will be made in the months ahead.

Chairman Richard Goyder said the appointment came after a rigorous selection process and allows for a smooth transition from Joyce. “A lot of thought has gone into this succession and the Board had a number of high-quality candidates to consider, both internally and externally. Vanessa has a deep understanding of this business after almost three decades in a range of roles both onshore and offshore, across commercial, customer and finance. She has a huge amount of airline experience and she’s an outstanding leader. 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. A key strength of Qantas is the sheer depth of talent it has, and Vanessa will be supported by a deep bench of executives across the organisation as well as by the board.”

Hudson said: “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.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. (PHOTO: Qantas)

Goyder paid tribute to Joyce’s leadership for what will be 15 years as Qantas Group CEO. “This transition is happening at a time when the Qantas Group is extremely well positioned. We have a clear strategy, a strong balance sheet and record profitability that supports a pipeline of investment for customers, opportunities for our people and returns to shareholders. Much of the credit for the bright future in front of Qantas goes to Alan. He’s faced more than his fair share of challenges as CEO and he’s managed them exceptionally well – from the GFC, to record oil prices, to intense competitive pressures and the COVID crisis. The company was restructured to deal with a number of external shocks and Alan led it to a several record profits. He’s overseen a lot of investment in aircraft, lounges, the creation of Jetstar, our cornerstone partnership with Emirates and innovations like the Perth-London route and Project Sunrise. Alan has done a superb job of leading a team that is absolutely committed to the national carrier’s long-term success and it’s from that team that his successor has been chosen,” added Goyder.

Joyce said: “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.”

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