Thales Australia and New Zealand announced the appointment of Jeff Connolly as chief executive officer (CEO) following the decision by current CEO Chris Jenkins to retire after 14 years in the role. Connolly will take up the role on 1 September 2022, with Jenkins agreeing to continue to serve Thales and its customers as a non-executive director after a period of leave.

Australian-born Connolly will join Thales from multinational technology and engineering company Siemens AG, where he has been executive chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia and New Zealand for the past 10 years. In a 30-year career at Siemens, Connolly has held senior executive roles throughout Australia, Europe and Asia.

Thales Australia and New Zealand Chair, Belinda Hutchinson, said the company was delighted to welcome a highly regarded senior business leader of Connolly’s calibre to Thales. “As an experienced, passionate and committed supporter of Australian research, innovation and modern manufacturing, Jeff has the strategic and operational capability to deliver for our customers and support our employees and other stakeholders,” Hutchinson said. “Among other notable achievements, Jeff established and chaired the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce, now known as the AiGroup Industry 4.0 Forum, and he remains on the Executive Council. More recently, Jeff chaired the Federal Government’s Research Commercialisation Taskforce, the recommendations of which led to the $2.2 billion University Research Commercialisation Action Plan to drive industry and university innovation and collaboration.”

Connolly said “I am excited by the opportunity to lead one of Australia’s most innovative and trusted companies at a time when demand for its mission-critical services has never been more acute. I look forward to continuing to build on Thales’ well-earned reputation for innovation and world-class support for its defence and commercial customers in Australia, throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.”

Hutchinson thanked Mr Jenkins for his significant contribution to Thales over 35 years, including 14 years as the Thales Australia and New Zealand CEO. “Chris is an outstanding leader who has served the company with distinction, growing Thales into one of Australia’s largest suppliers and exporters of mission-critical products and services. The board is pleased that Chris, after a period of leave, will rejoin the company as a non-executive director continuing his strong advocacy for Australian engineering, technology, design and manufacturing.”

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