Olivia Wirth resigns from Qantas – Changes coming for airline’s leadership team

Olivia Wirth resigns from Qantas – Changes coming for airline’s leadership team
Edited by Travel Weekly


    The Qantas Group has announced two changes to its senior management team, with the appointment of a Chief People Officer and the resignation of its Loyalty CEO.

    LOYALTY CEO

    Ms Wirth has been the CEO of Qantas Loyalty, which encompasses the airline’s 15 million member Frequent Flyer program, since 2018. Having overseen significant growth in the business during that time, she will leave in February 2024 to pursue other opportunities.

    Under Ms Wirth’s leadership, Loyalty expanded its presence in hotels, holidays, insurance and financial services, as well as adding 3 million members and delivering record earnings.

    Over her 14 years at Qantas, Ms Wirth has made a tremendous contribution in a number of senior roles, including Chief Customer Officer and Group Executive for Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs.

    A process to appoint a new CEO of Qantas Loyalty will begin shortly.

    CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER

    As flagged in June 2023, the revised Qantas Group management team structure includes a dedicated role of Chief People Officer, reporting to the Group CEO.

    After an extensive search, Catherine Walsh has been appointed to this role and will bring 25 years’ experience in human resources and industrial relations across similarly large and complex organisations, including Australia Post, Downer and Spotless. Most recently, she has been a member of the new leadership team driving cultural change at PWC.

    In this new role, Ms Walsh will help drive a stronger relationship between Qantas and its 25,000 employees, as well as with the unions that represent them. This function will also help lead the recruitment of thousands of new roles across the Group in coming years as it takes delivery of new aircraft and returns to growth.

    Ms Walsh will start in January 2024.

    GROUP CEO COMMENTS

    In announcing the executive changes, Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson said:

    Olivia’s contribution to this company over many years has been enormous. As CEO of Loyalty, she drove huge expansion of what the program offers and that shows in the growth in members and their engagement levels.

    “During COVID, Loyalty was one of the few parts of our business that was able to carry on, which took a lot of hard work and imagination. There are many improvements for customers in the pipeline that Olivia will continue working on with her team over the next few months, as part of setting this part of the business up for continued success.

    “As well as the other senior roles she held, Olivia has been a member of the Group Management Committee for more than a decade and on behalf of the organisation I’d like to sincerely thank her for everything she’s done.

    “Several months ago we announced the Chief People Officer role to make sure the voice of our people is front and centre on the leadership team and I’m thrilled Catherine will be bringing her skills and experience to this important task.

    “Ultimately, building a stronger culture and better relationships with our people is one of my highest priorities and a shared responsibility across management.

    “As our Chief People Officer, Catherine will support those collective efforts by ensuring we always value the incredible contribution our people make to this organisation and listen to their insights, especially as we welcome thousands more to the Group to support our growth,” said Ms Hudson.

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

    Olivia Wirth said: “Qantas has been a massive part of my professional life and I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given over the years. At its core, Qantas is an incredible company and brand and I’ve loved being part of it. I’m extremely proud of what the team at Loyalty has achieved and I’m looking forward to delivering more improvements for members before I leave.”

    Catherine Walsh said: “It’s an honour to be joining the Qantas Group in such an important role and at a pivotal time. I’ve spent a lot of time on Qantas flights and the dedication and professionalism of the people always shines through, so I look forward to being part of the broader team.”

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