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Qantas CFO Vanessa Hudson to replace Alan Joyce as CEO

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Mr Joyce will depart later this year after 15 years in the top job.

Qantas Group has announced that its current chief financial officer, Vanessa Hudson, will take over as chief executive officer and managing director from November this year once longstanding CEO Alan Joyce retires.

Ms Hudson originally joined the airline in 1994 and has held a number of senior commercial, customer, and finance roles in Australia and overseas throughout her tenure.

Before being appointed to the position of CFO in 2019, she served as chief customer officer between 2018 and 2019, executive manager of sales and distribution from 2016 to 2018, and senior executive vice-president of the Americas from 2013 to 2016.


Qantas chairman Richard Goyder said that Ms Hudson’s appointment followed a rigorous selection process and would allow for a smooth transition from Mr Joyce.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Goyder noted that Ms Hudson had been directly involved in shaping the airline’s strategy over the past five years as a member of its group management committee and said that her handling of the finance and treasury portfolio during the COVID-19 crisis was “outstanding”.

“A key strength of Qantas is the sheer depth of talent it has, and Vanessa will be supported by a deep bench of executives across the organisation as well as by the board,” he added.

Commenting on her appointment, Ms Hudson said that she was honoured to have been asked to lead Australia’s 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,” she said.

Ms Hudson will remain as Qantas CFO while also being CEO designate and join its board. She will then take over as the 13th CEO in the airline’s 103-year history following its 2023 annual general meeting in early November.

“This transition is happening at a time when the Qantas Group is extremely well positioned. We have a clear strategy, a strong balance sheet, and record profitability that supports a pipeline of investment for customers, opportunities for our people and returns to shareholders,” Mr Goyder said.

“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.”

Mr Joyce was appointed CEO in 2008 after serving as CEO of Jetstar between 2003 and 2008. He had previously spent over 15 years in leadership positions at Aer Lingus, Ansett, and Qantas.

“At the board’s request, I extended my time as CEO to see through the COVID recovery plan, so now that we’re on the other side of that crisis it’s a logical time for me to step down,” Mr Joyce said.

“There’s still a lot I want to deliver in the next six months and at the top of that list is ensuring a smooth handover to Vanessa, who I’m sure will excel in the role.”

Qantas noted that an announcement would be made on a new CFO in the coming months.

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.