Qantas names first-ever CPO

New HR leader meant to drive stronger relationship between company and 25,000-strong workforce

Qantas names first-ever CPO

Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways has named former PwC People Leader Catherine Walsh as its first-ever chief people officer (CPO).

In an announcement on Monday, Qantas said Walsh will begin on her role in January 2024 and will be reporting to Group CEO Vanessa Hudson.

"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," Hudson said in a statement.

"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."

Walsh's appointment will help drive a stronger relationship between Qantas and its 25,000 employees, according to the flag carrier.

Her role will also help lead the recruitment of "thousands of new roles" across the group in the coming years.

Walsh has 25 years of experience in human resources and industrial relations. Most recently, she was a part of PwC's Management Leadership Team as the People Leader.

She also previously held human resources-related roles at the Australia Post, Downer, and Spotless.

Walsh called it an "honour" to join the Qantas Group 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," she said in a statement.

Pivotal time

Walsh joins at a time when Qantas is rebuilding its reputation following its controversial outsourcing thousands of roles during the height of the pandemic, a move that the High Court last month upheld as unlawful.

The Transport Workers' Union then called for a massive board shake-up on the Australian flag carrier, while demanding a worker representative to join the board.

Walsh's appointment follows an "extensive search" since the airline announced the establishment of a new CPO role in late June.

"We have a lot of expansion planned in the years ahead and that will translate into thousands of new frontline jobs and millions of hours of training. Keeping our team engaged and supporting them to deliver for our customers is critical, and so is the dedicated Chief People Officer role," Hudson previously said.

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