New Tesla Board Chair, Robyn Denholm Believes In Risks And Positive Conflict

Tesla

NOV 10 2018 BY EVANNEX 4

TESLA’S NEW BOARD CHAIR, ROBYN DENHOLM, SAYS THAT ‘CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT’ IS IMPORTANT

Questions arose when Tesla announced its new board chair Robyn Denholm. How might the seasoned executive interface with Tesla’s hard-charging CEO Elon Musk? Richard Walters (via Financial Times) reports that “Ms Denholm has always described herself as direct — the product of a pragmatic Australian upbringing that has left her with a no-nonsense view of the world.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Tesla new board chair, Robyn Denholm (Image: In Cyprus)

It’s reported that, “Ms Denholm grew up in Milperra, a small town in Sydney’s sprawling western suburbs. Her parents owned a service station, where she used to pump petrol, do the accounts and repair cars — a pursuit that got her interested in automobiles.” Denholm went on to work at “Toyota in Australia, where she rose to the position of national finance manager and became one of the few women to reach a senior level at the time.”

Later, “Ms Denholm left Australia for Silicon Valley,” transitioning into the tech sector working with the likes of Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks. And according to Pierre Ferragu, a Wall Street analyst who covered Juniper Networks, “She has a proven record for dealing with very high-ego individuals.”

Ferragu says, “Robyn is the exact opposite: she can remain very calm, very stable. She is a less visible personality, but she’s very good at driving things without having to be in the lead.” He adds, “She has a quiet self-confidence… very on top of what was happening in the business.”

Above: Denholm was recently named Tesla’s new board chair (Flickr: Jakob Härter)

Denholm has taken calculated risks in her career to succeed. “I don’t jump out of planes or bungee jump or any of that stuff,” she told The Australian. “But I do take professional risks. You make the best decisions you can with all the information you have — and you have to move quickly. You’re not pushing hard enough if you never make mistakes.”

Denholm has been on Tesla’s board for four years, serving as non-executive director and chairing the board’s audit committee. In the Australian Financial Review, she was asked about her experience at Tesla and replied, “It’s great, and he [Musk] is great, he’s just phenomenal.”

In turn, Musk has admiration (and praise) for Denholm. He tweeted, “Would like to thank Robyn for joining the team. Great respect. Very much look forward to working together.” According to Tesla, “Robyn will be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company,” in order to serve as Tesla’s new board chair on a full-time basis.

Above: Denholm describes how ‘constructive conflict’ can improve collaboration (Youtube: Telstra Wholesale)

The road ahead for the electric carmaker won’t be easy. Musk has noted that, “Tesla’s like a drama magnet.” But Denholm welcomes conflict. She’s openly discussed nurturing conflict while “teasing out those ideas” that bring about successful outcomes. At Telstra (see video above), she said, “I actually think conflict is great… I mean constructive conflict where you’ll actually debate around an idea or go backwards and forwards on how to iterate on an idea. I think that’s really important.”

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Source: Financial TimesTelstraTesla

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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4 Comments on "New Tesla Board Chair, Robyn Denholm Believes In Risks And Positive Conflict"

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G2

Looking forward to less drama on Twitter and more of Elon’s great engineering leadership.

ffbj

There is also destructive conflict, the methodology preferred by the current administration, and it’s not really helping the auto industry, go figure:
https://www.morningstar.com/news/dow-jones/TDJNDN_201811098784/trump-tariffs-are-souring-longstanding-auto-industry-ties.html

Henry

It’s not helping anyone except those in their circles.

antrik

The more people dig into her background, the more it sounds like she should indeed complement Musk very well 🙂