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Vanessa Hudson will take over as CEO of Qantas in place of Alan Joyce.

Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas for the past 15 years, is stepping down; Vanessa Hudson will take over in November.

Alan Joyce, the Qantas Group’s CEO for the past 15 years, revealed this morning that he will step down from his position in November. Another longtime Qantas employee, Vanessa Hudson, who is presently the company’s Chief Financial Officer and has worked for the company for 28 years, will take over as his successor.

Although rumors about Joyce’s retirement or replacement have been circulating for years, they have only ever been officially confirmed by Qantas now.The nomination of Hudson, according to chairman Richard Goyder, occurred after a thorough vetting process and enables a seamless changeover from current CEO Alan Joyce.

“This transition has been carefully considered, and the Board had a number of excellent candidates to choose from, both internally and internationally.After working in a variety of roles both onshore and offshore for almost to three decades in the commercial, customer, and financial sectors, Vanessa has a thorough understanding of this industry. She is a fantastic leader and has a ton of airline experience.

What has Joyce left behind?

Such announcements are frequently worded in two sections, somewhat in the style of the politicians’ favorite phrase, “King is dead, long live the King.” The truth is that Joyce has led Qantas through some significant existential crises, including as the fleet’s grounding, the global financial crisis, multiple labor disputes, and COVID-19.He will leave Qantas with perhaps the highest profit in its history and an airline poised for even greater success as Project Sunrise comes to fruition, both financially and operationally. He will be the subject of a great deal of writing, with his legacy being shaped by his ferociously competitive temperament and divisive outlook on doing what was best for Qantas.

As would be expected, the chairman lavished praise on Joyce, claiming that “Alan deserves a lot of the credit for the bright future Qantas has ahead of it.” Goyder cited a company that has a profitable record, a solid balance sheet, and a clear business plan that “supports a pipeline of investment for customers, opportunities for our people, and returns to shareholders.”Although Joyce will undoubtedly have a lot to say both now and in the coming weeks, his only contribution to today’s announcement was this.

“I extended my tenure as CEO at the Board’s request to see the COVID recovery plan through, but now that we have emerged victorious from that crisis, it makes sense for me to resign. There is still a lot I want to do in the upcoming six months, and making sure Vanessa transitions into the position seamlessly is at the top of that list.

Vanessa Hudson: Who is she?

Today is also the day of Vanessa Hudson, who began working for the airline in 1994 as an internal audit supervisor and is currently the CEO-designate and a member of the Qantas board. In the 103-year history of the airline, she will be the 13th CEO to hold the position, and she will assume it after this year’s annual general meeting in November.

In addition to serving as senior vice president for the Americas and New Zealand, her Qantas career has encompassed senior management positions in finance, catering, inflight services, sales and distribution, and commercial planning. Until her replacement, Hudson will remain in her job as group chief financial officer, which she assumed in 2019—right before the pandemic threw a huge wrench into Qantas’ balance sheet.

She also oversaw the domestic fleet renewal selection process last year, and she will now have the chance to observe it take place. There won’t be a need for L-plates when she assumes the top position because of her breadth of experience in the majority of airline-related areas, including the last five years spent on the Group Management Committee.

This morning, Hudson provided some insight into her strategy: “It’s an absolute honor to be asked to lead the national carrier.” This is a remarkable organization with an abundance of extraordinarily brilliant employees, and it is well set up for the future. Delivering for those who depend on us and on whom we depend—our customers, our employees, our shareholders, and the communities we serve—will be my first priority.

The focus will shift to evaluating Joyce’s legacy and accomplishments now that any rumors about his future as Qantas CEO have been put to rest, with both his supporters and adversaries lining up in equal measure to have their say.

Qantas was in a mess and had an image that was distinctly ragged a year ago, but Joyce and his team have now turned things around, and the company he is handing over to Hudson is nothing like the one from early 2022.

Where will he appear next is probably the main concern.

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