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Who is Vanessa Hudson, Qantas’ incoming CEO?

written by Jake Nelson | May 2, 2023

Qantas CFO Vanessa Hudson is stepping up to replace Alan Joyce when the CEO retires in November – here’s what you need to know about the new boss.

Who is Vanessa Hudson?

Vanessa Hudson has been CFO of Qantas Group since October 2019, having been promoted from the role of Chief Customer Officer following a year and a half in the position. Hudson took over as CFO shortly before COVID-19 border closures wreaked havoc on the Flying Kangaroo’s bottom line.

What experience and qualifications does she have?


Hudson joined Qantas in 1994 as an Internal Audit Supervisor after two years on External Audits for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

“Since then, she has held a variety of senior commercial, customer and finance roles across the Group, in Australia and overseas, including Executive Manager of Sales and Distribution; Senior Vice President for Qantas across the Americas and New Zealand; Executive Manager of Commercial Planning; and Executive Manager for Product and Service,” says Qantas.

“In these various roles, her responsibilities ranged from sales channels, revenue management and network planning, to transformation in catering, airports and network.”

She holds a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology Sydney and is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

What are some of her career highlights?

One major accomplishment for Hudson came in 2021 when the Flying Kangaroo scored significant concessions, including “payroll tax relief, tourism marketing funding, property rebates, training support and direct incentives” from NSW and Victoria to keep its major hubs in Sydney and Melbourne.

Hudson had in September 2020 sparked an interstate bidding war by publicly considering moving all of Qantas’ bases to a single city and hinting that the national carrier might consider “potential incentives” from other states.

“As well as simply rightsizing the amount of space we have, there are opportunities to consolidate some facilities and unlock economies of scale,” said Hudson at the time.

“For instance, we could co-locate the Qantas and Jetstar head offices in a single place rather than splitting them across Sydney and Melbourne.”

Why did she get the job?

As the CFO during COVID, many commentators regard her as the executive that masterminded Qantas’ survival – and subsequent record profits.

Hudson’s team was responsible for raising the cash to keep the airline alive during the darkest days of the pandemic.

“Careful management through this period – including equity raising, debt raising and asset sales – saw the company make it through the crisis and ultimately emerge with a stronger balance sheet than pre-COVID,” the airline says.

What’s next for Hudson?

Hudson has been named Qantas’ CEO-designate and will take over from Joyce when the outgoing CEO’s tenure ends at November’s Annual General Meeting. She has already received olive branches from unions who were perpetually at war with Joyce over his combative industrial relations style, with AIPA President Tony Lucas congratulating her on her appointment.

“Pilots are long-term employees of Qantas, and we are invested in its success. We look forward to working with Vanessa in her new role to ensure the continuing growth of the Qantas Group to the benefit of the travelling public, staff and shareholders,” he said.

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