It sounds like going home. Serving Thursday at the head of the Tesla Board, Robyn Denholm grew up at a gas station, owned by his parents in Milperra, a small town in Australia with a population of 4,000, located about 20 kilometers southwest of Sydney.
In a small family business, he has a special role: keeping an account. The initial familiarity with numbers and calculations that produced a degree in economics, was obtained at the University of New South Wales, at the age of 22.
Three years later, Robyn Denholm graduated with a degree in Trade and Industrial Relations from the University of Sydney. In parallel, young Australians carry out the mission as auditors at Andersen, a company that specializes in corporate finance and consulting.
Role of Policy
At the age of 26, Robyn Denholm got his first job at Toyota, in the finance department, where he could reconcile two specialties: accounts and cars. After holding several positions of responsibility, he left the Japanese factory after seven years. He will return to industry only 22 years later, at Tesla.
"Robyn has solid experience in the technology and automotive sectors," commented Elon Musk, who is satisfied with the career path of his new team. It was ten years of a career in software company Sun Microsystems, six in telecommunications equipment company Juniper Networks and one and a half years in telecommunication operator Australia Telstra.
Still in a leadership position, Robyn Denholm seems to have an ideal profile for decision-making roles. This has been a "driving force" in the restructuring of Juniper Networks, which led to record profits in 2015, said Andrew Penn, Telstra boss when he recruited.
Estimated by Elon Musk
This good management knowledge must be an undeniable asset in his new mission: channel Elon Musk. And can, if necessary, give him directions to follow, provided he has the approval and support of the eight other board members beforehand.
"I think forcing Elon to work with strangers will be very difficult for obvious reasons," said Ross Gerber, head of Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, which owns shares in Tesla. But Robyn Denholm, he was known for four years. On the other hand, "he respected him and that was very important," said Ross Gerber.
Although valued by his partner, he is not one of his relatives. "He has fewer connections with Elon Musk than the directors of other companies," reports the US newspaper. Which eliminates the independence of spirit and certain actions.
"A good choice"
The announcement of his appointment turned out to be surprising. Some analysts instead bet on James Murdoch, son of media king Rupert Murdoch and administrator of Tesla, who is better known to the general public.
But Robyn Denholm has a strong reputation among his friends. California National Diversity has made it one of the 50 most influential women in the field of technology. And he has integrated the ranking of "women to watch" by Global Telecoms Business magazine in 2017.
"Among the current directors, he is a good choice," said Dieter Waizenegger, head of the CtW Investment Group, which represents the pension and solidarity funds owned by Tesla. For Robyn Denholm, the mission is simple: "help Elon" and let Tesla achieve "sustainable profitability".
From the service station in Tesla, the goal remains the same: to ensure proper account maintenance.