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Tesla Has Found a New Chairwoman to Take Elon Musk’s Place

It was in the middle of October that US District Judge Alison Nathan approved a settlement between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As part of the terms, Musk may no longer lead the company’s board of directors and was given 45 days to resign as chairman. He also may not be the company’s chairman for three years.

Musk did resign and the company has found a replacement. The company’s new chairwoman will be current director, Robyn Denholm, effective immediately.

Ms. Denholm, 55, is the chief financial officer of Telstra, a telecom company in Australia. She will be leaving that position once her six-month notice period is up.

Denholm stated, “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 previously held positions in finance and strategy at tech companies like Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks and according to Musk, “she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company.”

Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said the appointment of Denholm “technically complies” with the S.E.C. settlement.

He said, “If the goal is to provide adult supervision, it won’t accomplish that. She’s been on the board through all of the shenanigans. She never resigned in protest. She is a Musk supporter. If it doesn’t work out, she will be the one who leaves. It won’t be Musk who leaves.”

Below is Tesla’s full statement on the new hire:

    Tesla’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Robyn Denholm has been appointed as Chair of the Tesla Board, effective immediately. So that she will be able to devote her full attention to the Tesla Chair role, Robyn will be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, once her six-month notice period with Telstra is complete. Robyn will be serving as Tesla Chair on a full-time basis.

    To ensure a smooth transition during the remainder of Robyn’s time at Telstra, Elon will be a resource to Robyn and provide any support that she requests in her role as Chair. Robyn will continue to provide the necessary focus and time to Telstra during the remainder of her time there, and she will also temporarily step down as Chair of Tesla’s Audit Committee until she leaves Telstra.

    Robyn has served on the Tesla Board as an independent director since 2014. 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. 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.

    “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,” Robyn said.

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

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