A longtime Tesla board member, last heard fromÂ offering cover for CEO Elon Musk’s disastrous go-private tweet, will be the automaker’s new board chair, tasked with keeping Musk’s destructive tendencies in check.
In accepting the new role, Robyn says goodbye to her short-lived stint as chief financial officer and head of strategy at Australian telecommunications giantÂ Telstra, which sounds a lot like “Tesla.” With Musk booted from the chairman position for a period of three years, Denholm will oversee a board with greater independence, or so the SEC hopes.
Musk’s removal was part of a settlement reached after the securities regulator slapped Musk and Tesla with a fraud lawsuit. Both man and company ended up paying $20 million fines. By installing a new chairman and two yet-to-be-named independent board members, the SEC hopes to put an end to the Elon Musk Show.
“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,â€� Denholm said in a statement. The new chair, who joined the board in 2014, was Telstra’s CFO for a little over a month. She won’t take another job, Bloomberg reports.
While Denholm’s background glows â€” her CV includes high-ranking positions atÂ Toyota Motor Corp. and Sun Microsystems, among others â€” she told Australian media last month that she was not in the running for the position of Tesla chair. Obviously, something changed on that front. In a statement, Musk congratulated her for the new responsibility, later tweeting, “Would like to thank Robyn for joining the team. Great respect. Very much look forward to working together.”
Perhaps it’s Denholm’s history of financial management posts at Toyota that propelled her into the top spot. That said, not everyone thinks Denholm will be able to reign in a board seen as to beholden to Musk. To some, Denholm herself fits into that category.
“While Denholm is technically an independent member of the board, she has been part of the Musk team for some time now and that suggests she will not be up to the task of checking Muskâ€™s worst instincts,â€� Stephen Diamond, a professor of law at Santa Clara University, told Bloomberg.