Australian executive will replace Elon Musk as automaker's chairperson

Tesla has appointed Robyn Denholm, currently chief financial officer and head of strategy at Telstra, as the automaker's new chairwoman, effective immediately.

She will replace Elon Musk as Tesla's chair, who will remain as the company's CEO. Musk was compelled to relinquish his role as chairman in a deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over his false assertion on Twitter that he had secured funding to take the company private.

Both Musk and Tesla paid a US$20 million ($28 million) fine as part of the agreement, although neither were forced to admit guilt.

Denholm has been on the board of Tesla since 2014, and has been the head of the company's audit committee.

She has been Telstra's chief financial officer since January 2017, and last month added the role of head of strategy to her responsibilities.

According to Tesla, she will leave the Australian telco at the end of her six-month notice period.

Beginning her working life as an auditor at Arthur Andersen's Sydney office in 1984, Denholm then spent seven years at Toyota Australia, working primarily in finance and consolidation.

Jumping over to Sun Microsystems, Denholm shifted from a director's role in Australia to various senior finance positions in Silicon Valley. From 2007 to 2016 Denholm was the chief financial officer and chief operating officer at Juniper Networks.

“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,” Denholm said in a prepared statement.

On the Tesla website, Musk wrote: “Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company. I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy."