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Thales Australia names new CEO

Jeff Connolly

The defence contractor has announced the replacement for long-serving CEO Chris Jenkins.

The defence contractor has announced the replacement for long-serving CEO Chris Jenkins.

Jeff Connolly has been appointed as CEO of Thales Australia and New Zealand, effective from 1 September 2022.

Connolly will replace Chris Jenkins, who is set to retire after 14 years of service in the role.


Jenkins has agreed to assume a role as a non-executive director on Thales’ board following a period of leave.

Incoming CEO Jeff Connolly will join Thales from multinational technology and engineering company Siemens AG, where he has held a number of senior roles both domestically and internationally over the past 30 years.

Connolly currently serves as executive chairman and CEO of Siemens Australia and New Zealand, first assuming the role in March 2012.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Belinda Hutchinson, chair of Thales Australia and New Zealand, welcomed the new appointee, noting his senior business experience.

“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.

Connolly’s achievements include establishing and chairing the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce, known as the Ai Group Industry 4.0 Forum.

He also chaired the federal government’s Research Commercialisation Taskforce, which issued recommendations resulting in a $2.2 billion University Research Commercialisation Action Plan to bolster industry and university collaboration.

Hutchinson went on to thank outgoing CEO Chris Jenkins for his 35-year contribution to Thales.

“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,” Hutchinson added.

“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.

[Related: Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms opens Small Arms Collaboration and Cooperation Centre]

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