Tesla names Robyn Denholm new chairman, overseeing Elon Musk

Tesla picked Australian executive Robyn Denholm to replace Elon Musk as chairman, a role that will give her oversight of the unorthodox billionaire.   

Denholm, an independent director at Tesla since 2014, currently serves as the chief financial officer of Telstra, Australia's biggest telecom company. Although the appointment as Tesla chair is immediate, she will leave her role at Telstra after a six-month notice period, Tesla said.

The appointment comes as some investors urged management changes at the automaker following several controversies surrounding Musk. For one, Musk was hit with shareholder lawsuits and an SEC investigation over his tweets about taking the company private. As part of a settlement with U.S. regulators over the case, Musk agreed to vacate his post as board chairman. 

Already under scrutiny for his outbursts, Musk also smoked pot on a live interview, raising additional questions about his leadership. 

"I believe in this company. I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value," Denholm said in a statement.

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Robyn Denholm, Tesla's new board chair  

Teslar

Denholm, who is also Telstra's head of strategy, has worked at various technology companies including Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems and held finance management posts at Toyota Motor Corp. in Australia. 

SEC settlement

The settlement in late September with the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Musk to remain CEO of Tesla but required him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years.

Musk cited Denholm's long experience in the tech and auto industries as strong advantages and said in a statement that he looked forward to working with her.

Apart from appointing a new chairman, Tesla was required to appoint two new independent members to its board. The aim is to provide stronger oversight to match Tesla's growing stature and market value.

The charismatic, visionary Musk has strived to turn Tesla into a profitable, mass-market producer of environmentally-friendly electric cars. But his impulsive streak caused him trouble when he tweeted in August that he had "funding secured" for taking Tesla private. He hadn't. 

As part of Musk's settlement with the SEC, Tesla also is supposed to monitor Twitter posts that he makes if they have to do with company news that could impact the value of investors' shares in the company.