Following weeks of speculation about who would replace Elon Musk as Chairman, Tesla has reportedly promoted one of its independent directors to the position.
Robyn Denholm, 55, an Australian accountant, is currently the Chief Financial Officer and Head of Strategy at Australian telecoms operator Telstra, a role that she took on in July this year. She has previously worked with Arthur Andersen, Toyota and Sun Microsystems.
Denholm’s tenure as an independent Director at Tesla began earlier in 2014. In 2017, she was the highest paid board member with a remuneration of $5 million, mainly in stock options. She also heads Tesla’s audit committee.
According to Tesla, Denholm takes over as Tesla’s Chairperson immediately and on a full-time basis. She will also have to temporarily step down from her role in the audit committee until she leaves Telstra, which will be once she completes her six-month notice period with the company.
Denholms’ appointment as Chair comes on the back of an agreement by Musk in a settlement with regulators back in September. This news is expected to calm frenzied investors and many on Wall Street, who had been extremely worried about the company’s future following Musk’s erratic behaviour.
Tesla has seen months of turbulence as a result of poor management and scandal after scandal involving Elon Musk and his public behaviour. His public outbursts have involved journalists, analysts, Wall Street investors and even rapper Azealia Banks.
Poor management as well as the constant negative publicity has resulted in Tesla’s top rung seeing one exit after another. In recent months, the carmaker has lost senior executives for sales, human resources, manufacturing and finance.
The call for a strong independent figure, who could take the reins of the company and its erratic Chief Executive, was getting louder and impossible for the board to ignore. Denholm’s appointment seems to be a glimmer of hope for the company, as does the news of the production of the Model 3 sedan.