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Robyn Denholm: The woman taking over from Elon Musk as Telsa’s chair



Robyn Denholm
Robyn Denholm, Tesla’s new


  • Tesla announced that Robyn Denholm is replacing Elon
    Musk as its chair after he was forced to step down by the
    Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Denholm is CFO at Australia’s largest telecoms company
    Telstra. She has been on Tesla’s board for the past four
  • Here’s what you need to know about the woman tasked
    with keeping Elon Musk in check.

announced it has a new chair on Thursday.

The electric car company has appointed Robyn Denholm, the CFO of
Australia’s largest telecoms firm Telstra, as the woman to
oversee its board.

She replaces CEO Elon Musk, who had to step down as chairman for
at least three years as part of a deal with the Securities and
Exchange Commission after his infamous “funding secured” tweet.

Here’s what you need to know about Tesla’s new chair, Robyn

1. Robyn Denholm has been on the Tesla board since 2014

Denholm has been an independent director at Tesla for four years.
She was the first woman to join the board of nine, which includes
Musk and his brother, Kimbal.

Among her duties as a board member, she chaired Tesla’s audit
committee, which provides oversight of the company’s accounting
and financial reporting.

2. She’s CFO at Australia’s largest telecoms firm — but she’s
only been in the role for a month

Denholm is CFO at Telstra, Australia’s biggest telecommunications
company, and will be leaving the company after her six month
notice period is up. She’ll get to work as Tesla’s chair
immediately, however.

She only took up her role as CFO in October.
Telstra’s CEO Andy Penn told the Sydney Morning Herald:
know that it has become increasingly difficult to balance her
responsibilities as Telstra CFO with the increased activity of
the Tesla board.”

3. She was named in a lawsuit along with the rest of the board
for failing to curb Musk’s erratic behavior

The lawsuit
was filed by a shareholder
, who claims that Tesla’s board
“breached their fiduciary duties ” by allowing Musk to lie about
the company having obtained funding to go private.

“Despite being put on notice of [Musk’s] propensity for erratic
public communications that have harmed the Company and its
stockholders, the Board consciously disregarded his actions and
failed to do anything,” the suit alleged.

4. Denholm was part of a special committee that looked at taking
Tesla private

She formed
part of a three-person committee
along with fellow directors
Brad Buss and Linda Johnson Rice in August. The committee was
announced on August 14, seven days after Musk’s “funding
tweet on August 7.

5. She’ll get a $300,000 retainer fee plus stock options

A Tesla spokesperson told CNBC that in her new post, Denholm will
receive 8,000 in stock options each year on top of a $300,000

6. She’s no stranger to the tech and auto industry

Previous to working at Telstra, Denholm held positions at Juniper
Networks, Sun Microsystems, and Toyota Australia. She loves Tesla
because it mixes her passions for tech and the auto industry.

“I am a car enthusiast and am passionate about innovation, so
Tesla is the perfect board role for me,” she told executive search firm Odgers
Berndtson earlier this year.

7. She’s not James Murdoch

Tesla board member James Murdoch, son of billionaire Rupert
Murdoch, was
touted by the Financial Times as the frontrunner to replace
. However, Musk himself quashed the Times’s report,
tweeting “This is incorrect.”

Although he was reported as the favourite, Murdoch’s wasn’t the
only name to be floated as Musk’s potential successor. Former
Vice President Al Gore was also
mooted as a potential successor

James Murdoch
director James Murdoch.

Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic

8. Her parents owned a gas station

Denholm is taking the helm at the world’s most famous electric
car company, but as a child, she
reportedly tinkered with cars at her parents’ gas station
Milperra, New South Wales.

9. She had a Tesla on order before joining the firm

While her childhood may have been filled with petrol cars, she
was fascinated by Tesla before even joining the company’s board.
Denholm said she had a Model S on order before she was approached
by Tesla. She is now on to her third Tesla vehicle.

Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S.

10. She has the Elon Musk Twitter seal of approval

Musk’s Twitter activity has been a thorn in the side of Tesla’s
board, but on Thursday he welcomed her appointment on his
platform of choice.

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