Tesla appoints Robyn Denholm as chair, Elon Musk steps down

Tesla Model 3
Miles Branman/Digital Trends

The search is over. Tesla has appointed Robyn Denholm to replace Elon Musk as the chair of its board of directors.

Denholm’s name isn’t as well-known as Musk’s but she’s familiar with how Tesla operates. Though she currently works as the chief financial officer of Telstra, one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies, she has served on the Tesla board as an independent director since 2014, and she is also the chair of the company’s audit committee. Her new position at Tesla starts immediately, though she will continue to work for Telstra until May 2019. She will step down from her role on the audit committee until then.

The 55-year-old Denholm brings decades of experience in finance to Tesla. The Australian native spent most of her career working in tech firms, including 11 years at Sun Microsystems and nine years at Juniper Networks, but she held various positions at Toyota’s Australian division for seven years.

“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,” Musk wrote in a statement published on the company’s blog.

Though he admitted no wrongdoing, Musk agreed to step down as the company’s chairman for a three-year period and agreed to pay a $20 million fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his controversial “funding secured” tweet. The billionaire will remain the company’s CEO in the foreseeable future, and he will work with Denholm as she makes the transition from Telstra to Tesla in the coming months.

“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 said.

Denholm’s appointment comes shortly after Tesla quieted critics and surprised investors by posting a profit during the third quarter of 2018. Speaking during a conference call, Musk proudly announced the company he helped found is now in a position to sustainably make money. He expects the firm will remain in the black during the final quarter of 2018.

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