18/01/2021 - 15:00

Virgin executive team reshuffle

18/01/2021 - 15:00

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A slew of external hires head up Virgin Australia’s newly minted executive team, with outsiders named to key operational, corporate affairs and finance management roles.

Virgin executive team reshuffle
Virgin Australia entered into voluntary administration in April and was acquired by Bain Capital in November. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A slew of external hires head up Virgin Australia Holding’s newly minted executive team, with outsiders named to key operational, corporate affairs and finance management roles.

The appointments, which come just two months after Jayne Hrdlicka was named managing director and chief executive, signal a major overhaul for the airline since it entered voluntary administration and was subsequently acquired by private investment firm Bain Capital for $3.5 billion.

Despite rumours the company may embrace a low-cost model, Ms Hrdlicka has since committed to rebranding the airline as a mid-market offering aimed at value-minded corporate and leisure travellers.

More than half of the airline’s executive team have now been replaced because of today’s announcement, with Woolworths Group chief operating officer David Marr taking over as chief financial officer.

Mr Marr, who served as Woolworths Group’s chief financial officer between 2014 and 2019, will replace Keith Neate, who had served fewer than 18 months in the role prior to today’s announcement.

He had previously worked with the airline between 2003 and 2011.

Commenting on his appointment, Ms Hrdlicka offered praise for Mr Neate's role in rebuilding the company's balance sheet after rejoining the company in 2019.

"Keith was a key part of Virgin Australia’s successful exit from administration," she said.

"On behalf of everyone at Virgin I want to thank him for the important role he has played over the airline’s history."

Other hires include: The a2 Milk Company safety and sustainability officer Lisa Burquest, who will take over as chief people officer; International Airlines Group director of strategy Alistair Hartley, who will take over as chief transformation officer; Jetstar Japan chief executive Nick Rohrlach, who will take over as chief executive of Virgin’s Velocity program, and; The Arnott’s Group vice president of corporate affairs and sustainability Moksha Watts, who will take over a chief corporate affairs officer.

Just one of today’s appointment was an internal hire, with Susan Schneider, who currently serves as general manager of legal and compliance, named chief legal and risk officer.

She will replace Dayna Field, who resigned from the job after 13 years.

Despite today's announcement and the appointment of Paul Jones as chief customer and digital officer in December, Virgin will still need to replace its chief commerical and chief information officers as a result of a recently announced retirement and resignation, respectively.

Their appointments are expected in the coming months.

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