The Qantas Group has today announced Vanessa Hudson will become the next CEO and Managing Director, taking over from Alan Joyce when he retires in November 2023.
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. An announcement on a new CFO will be made in the months ahead.
Chairman Richard Goyder said the appointment came 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. She also led the fleet selection process in 2022 for the renewal of our domestic jet aircraft over the next decade.
“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,” Mr Goyder added.
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.
“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,” said Mr Goyder.
“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.
“The company was restructured to deal with a number of external shocks and Alan led it to a several record profits. He’s overseen a lot of investment in aircraft, lounges, the creation of Jetstar, our cornerstone partnership with Emirates and innovations like the Perth-London route and Project Sunrise.
“Alan has done a superb job of leading a team that is absolutely committed to the national carrier’s long-term success and it’s from that team that his successor has been chosen,” added Mr Goyder.
Alan Joyce said: “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. 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.”
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, including 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. Careful management through this period – including equity raising, debt raising and asset sales – saw the company make it through the crisis and ultimately emerge with a stronger balance sheet than pre-COVID.
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.
2019 – Present: Chief Financial Officer
2018 – 2019: Chief Customer Officer
2016 – 2018: Executive Manager, Sales and Distribution
2013 – 2016: Senior Executive Vice President, The Americas
2010 – 2013: Executive Manager, Commercial Planning
2005 – 2010: Executive Manager, Product Services
2001 – 2005: General Manager, Inflight Services
1997 – 2001: Catering Product Manager
1995 – 1997: Financial Controller, Commercial Division
1994 – 1995: Internal Audit Supervisor
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
1992 – 1994: External Audit