Funds SA chief jumps ship to NZ Super

3 April 2024
| By Jessica Penny |
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Jo Townsend has been appointed CEO of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, the Crown entity that manages NZ Super Fund.

According to the fund, NZ Super acting CEO Paula Steed will continue in her current capacity until Townsend officially commences in her new role in April.  

Townsend left Funds SA in September after an eight-year stint as CEO and officially announced her intention to depart from the $40 billion investment corporation in February 2023.

“My decision to step down from the CEO role has not been an easy one, and is very much taken from a personal perspective,” she said at the time.

“It has been an absolute privilege to lead this great organisation and work with so many dedicated people who genuinely enjoy what they do and understand its importance.”

Before this, Townsend held various roles at Rest including as general manager, investments and acting chief operating officer.

She has additionally held investment roles at NGS Super, Retirement Benefits Fund, Value Capital Management, and Rothschild Australia Asset Management.  

“We are excited to have Jo join the Guardians’ team.  She is a highly experienced CEO with a 30-year career in the Australian investment sector,” commented Guardians chair John Williamson.

“Jo is a proven people leader with a track record of developing high-performing teams, attracting talent and building strong stakeholder relationships.”

Williamson added that as the first externally appointed CEO since Adrian Orr in 2007, Townsend will bring a “fresh industry perspective”.

“We believe she is the right person to lead us into the future,” Williamson said.

In a LinkedIn post, Townsend said she is “absolutely thrilled” to be joining the Guardians.

“The NZ Super Fund is known and respected globally as a high-performing institutional investor. The Guardians’ purpose – sustainable investment delivering strong returns for all New Zealanders – sums up the importance of the Fund to the country,” she concluded.

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