It looks like a homecoming. Named Thursday ahead of Tesla's board of directors, Robyn Denholm grew up at a gas station, owned by her parents in Milperra, a small Australian suburb of 4,000 people, located about 20 miles southwest of Sydney.
In the small family business, she had a specific role: keeping accounts. An early acquaintance with the numbers and calculations that led to a degree in economics, obtained from the University of New South Wales, at the age of 22.
Three years later, Robyn Denholm graduated in Trade and Industrial Relations from Sydney University. In parallel, the young Australian performs missions as an auditor at Andersen, a company specializing in corporate finance and consulting.
At age 26, Robyn Denholm got his first job at Toyota in the finance department, where he can combine his two specialties: accounts and automobile. After holding various positions of responsibility, she leaves the Japanese manufacturer after seven years. She will return to the industry only 22 years later at Tesla.
"Robyn has solid experience in the technology and automotive sectors," commented Elon Musk, who is pleased with his new team's career. He is a 10-year career with Sun Microsystems software company, six with telecommunications equipment company Juniper Networks and a year and a half with Australian telecommunications operator Telstra.
Still in leadership positions, Robyn Denholm seems to have the ideal profile for decision-making roles. It has been a "driving force" in the restructuring of Juniper Networks, leading to record profits in 2015, said Andrew Penn, Telstra's chief at the time of his hiring.
Estimated by Elon Musk
This good knowledge of management must be an undeniable asset in his new mission: to channel Elon Musk. And be able, if necessary, to give him the direction to follow, provided he had the agreement and support of the other eight board members beforehand.
"I think forcing Elon to work with a stranger would have been very difficult for obvious reasons," said Ross Gerber, director of Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, which owns Tesla shares. But Robyn Denholm, he is known for four years. On the other hand, "he respects and is very important," said Ross Gerber.
Although valued by your partner, she is not one of your relatives. "She has much less connection to Elon Musk than other directors of the company," the American newspaper reports. That militates by a certain independence of spirit and action.
"A good choice"
The announcement of his appointment was, however, surprising. Several analysts have bet on James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and administrator of Tesla, better known to the general public.
However, Robyn Denholm has a strong reputation among her peers. California National Diversity has become one of the 50 most powerful women in technology. And she joined the "Women to Watch" ranking of Global Telecoms Business in 2017.
"Among the current directors, it is a good choice," said Dieter Waizenegger, director of the CtW Investment Group, which represents the solidarity and pension funds that Tesla holds. For Robyn Denholm, his mission is simple: "to help Elon" and enable Tesla to achieve "sustainable profitability."
From a service station in Tesla, your goal remains the same: to ensure proper maintenance of the accounts.