It sounds like coming home. Appointed on Thursday at the head of the Tesla Board of Directors, Robyn Denholm grew up at a gas station owned by her parents in Milter, a small Australian suburb of 4000, located about 20 kilometers southwest of Sydney.
In a small family business she played a special role: keeping accounts. Early knowledge of numbers and calculations that led to the economic degree obtained at the University of New South Wales at the age of 22.
Three years later, Robyn Denholm graduated from the department of trade and industrial relations at the University of Sydney. In parallel, a young Australian performs missions as an auditor at Andersen, a company specializing in corporate finance and consulting.
At the age of 26, Robyn Denholm got her first job at Toyota, in the finance department, where she can reconcile her two specializations: accounts and car. After passing several positions of responsibility, he leaves the Japanese manufacturer after seven years. She will return to the industry only 22 years later, in Tesla.
"Robyn has extensive experience in the technology and automotive sector," commented Elon Musk, who is satisfied with the career path of his new team. This is a ten-year career at Sun Microsystems, six at Juniper Networks and a year and a half at Australian Telstra telecom operator.
Still in managerial positions, Robyn Denholm seems to have an ideal profile for decision-making roles. This was the "driving force" in restructuring Juniper Networks, leading to record profits in 2015, said Andrew Penn, Telstra's head at the time of his employment.
Estimated by Elon Muska
This good knowledge of management should be an undeniable advantage in the new mission: to direct Elon Muska. And be able, if necessary, to give him a direction to follow, provided he had the consent and support of the other eight council members beforehand.
"I think that forcing Elon to work with a stranger would be very difficult for obvious reasons," said Ross Gerber, head of Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, which owns shares in Tesla. But Robyn Denholm has been known for four years. On the other hand, "it respects and is damned important," said Ross Gerber.
Although appreciated by her partner, she is not one of her relatives. "He has a much smaller relationship with Elon Muska than other company directors," the American newspaper reports. What speaks for a certain independence of spirit and action.
"A good choice"
The announcement of his nomination, however, was surprising. Several analysts, instead, bet on James Murdoch, the son of the media magnate Rupert Murdoch and administrator Tesla, more widely known to the public.
However, Robyn Denholm has a strong reputation among his peers. California National Diversity has made it one of the 50 most influential women in the industry. And she included the "women to watch" ranking by Global Telecoms Business magazine in 2017.
"Among the current directors, this is a good choice," said Dieter Waizenegger, head of the CtW Investment Group, who represents the solidarity and pension funds that Tesla has. For Robyn Denholm, his mission is simple: "help Elon" and let Tesla achieve "sustainable profitability".
From the service station at Tesla, his goal remains the same: to ensure proper maintenance of accounts.