Vanessa Hudson to replace Alan Joyce as Qantas CEO

Outside view of Qantas headqarters.
MDRX, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce will formally step down from the head role when he retires in November 2023. The Qantas Group has today announced that the current Group’s Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson will then assume the position of CEO and Managing Director.

Ms Hudson will become the thirteenth CEO for the Group and will also become the first woman to assume the lead role.

Vanessa Hudson to become 13th CEO

Ms 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.

Ms 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. Ms Hudson will also become the first female CEO for the airline.

The replacement for the role of Chief Financial Officer has not yet been announced, with the airline Group indicating that this would be formalised in the months ahead.

Above: Vanessa Hudson Photo Credit: Qantas Group

Group Chairman statement

Chairman Richard Goyder said that the appointment had come after a rigorous selection process and allows for a smooth transition from current CEO Alan Joyce.

Mr Goyder said: “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.”

Mr Goyder also noted the role which Ms Hudson played in the airline’s fleet selection process in 2022, for the renewal of the domestic jet aircraft fleet.

Ms 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.”

Mr Goyder paid tribute to Alan Joyce’s leadership for what will be 15 years as Qantas Group CEO, stating:

“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.”

About Vanessa Hudson

Vanessa Hudson joined Qantas in 1994. Since then she has held a variety of senior commercial, customer and finance roles across the Group, in Australia and overseas.

This has included Executive Manager of Sales and Distribution; Senior Vice President for Qantas across the Americas and New Zealand; Executive Manager of Commercial Planning; and Executive Manager for Product and Service.

In these various roles her responsibilities ranged from sales channels, revenue management and network planning, to transformation in catering, airports and network.

In February 2018, Vanessa was appointed to the role of Chief Customer Officer and became a member of the Group Management Committee.

In October 2019, Vanessa became the Group’s Chief Financial Officer and held this portfolio through the COVID crisis, when sudden border closures saw revenue evaporate in a matter of weeks.

Vanessa has a Bachelor of Business and was admitted as a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1994. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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