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Nova appoints new CEO

written by Staff reporter | November 5, 2020

Australian defence and aerospace firm Nova Group has appointed Jim McDowell as its new chief executive, writes Charbel Kadib.

McDowell will take up the position on 20 November and replaces Julie Cooper, who has served as interim group CEO since June.

Cooper is set to return to her role as non-executive director on the board. McDowell joins Nova Group from South Australia’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet, where he has served as chief executive since September 2018.

Prior to this, McDowell served as CEO of BAE Systems Australia, where he oversaw the purchase of Tenix Defence.

The incoming Nova Group CEO has also served as in-country CEO of BAE Systems’ $6 billion Saudi Arabian business and has held roles with Bombardier Shorts for 18 years.

“Jim is the right person to lead Nova into the future, ushering in an exciting new chapter of the company’s long and proud history,” Jim Whalley, chairman and founder of Nova Group, said.

“He has a proven record of leadership and a breadth of business experience that we believe is critical to lead Nova, including the ability to forge major client relationships and a commitment to our people and the behaviours we want to emulate.”


The new appointee is serving, or has served, on the boards of several major Australian businesses and community organisations, including the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Air Warfare Destroyer Principals Council, the Royal Automobile Association, Adelaide Football Club, The Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council and St Peter’s College Council of Governors.

Reflecting on his appointment, McDowell commented, “I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead this exceptional Australian-owned and operated company – one that has so much potential and is full of smart people.

In February, Australian Aviation reported how Airbus Helicopters signed a charter to collaborate with subsidiary Nova Systems.

The deal will see the two businesses co-operate on equipment acquisition, support programs, personnel secondment and provision.

Airbus Helicopters’ current Australian programs also include MRH90 Taipan, a multi-role helicopter, and the ARH Tiger, a two-seat, attack helicopter.

The 170 separate projects for the pair are worth $300 million and involve partners such as Cablex, Ferra, Safran, Partech Systems and Thales.

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