Former Liberal Party leader, Defence Minister and Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson will head the Oceania operations of US Aerospace giant Boeing.
Dr. Nelson will become the Sydney-based president of Boeing’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific as part of moves the company says will strengthen its local presence and regional business portfolio.
He replaces Maureen Dougherty, who has served as president in the Oceania region since 2014 and will retire in March after 40 years in the aerospace industry.
Effective February 11, Dr. Nelson will become chairman of the board for Boeing Australia Holdings and the company’s senior leader for its 3,800 employees working across commercial airplane manufacturing, defense systems, services, research and development, and autonomous systems.
He will also execute the company’s strategy for community engagement, focusing on STEM and veteran outreach efforts.
He joins at an unsettled time for Boeing, which is still reeling from the 737 MAX crisis.
A graduate of South Australia’s Flinders University with a degree in medicine and surgery, the former politician was elected to the Australian parliament in 1996.
He served as the Minister for Education, Science and Training for five years and two as Defence Minister for two in the government of long-serving Liberal Prime Minister John Howard.
He had a brief stint as leader of Australia’s Liberal party in 2007-08 before being appointed as Australia’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO until 2012.
Most recently, he was the respected, high-profile director of the Australian War Memorial.
“It is an honor to join a global company like Boeing whose proud legacy here in Australia dates back more than 90 years to the earliest days of Australian aircraft manufacturing,” he said of the appointment.
“Today, Boeing Australia employees are working across the country in high-tech jobs that help define and deliver the future of aviation and defense – not just for Australian customers but for the world.”
Dr. Nelson’s awards include an Order of Australia (AO) conferred in 2016 for services to the community, the parliament of Australia, diplomacy and cultural leadership as well as Australian Medical Associations’ highest honor, the Gold medal, for distinguished service to medicine and humanity.
The Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) conferred Honorary Life Membership upon Dr. Nelson in 2018 for his services to, and in support of, veterans and ex-service organizations.
“Boeing is proud to have Brendan join our team after his many years of outstanding public and private sector service,” Boeing International president Sir Michael Arthur said in the announcement.
“His proven ability to understand and manage complex situations – first as a medical doctor, later as a government leader and diplomat – will be put to good use as he leads Boeing Australia, the company’s largest presence outside the US and home to a large engineering and technical staff.
“Brendan takes up the mantle from Maureen Dougherty, who has done a superb job over the past six years leading our regional efforts, growing our relationships with customers and other stakeholders, and ensuring that Boeing in Australia thrives for many years ahead.”
This is not the first time Boeing has appointed a former Liberal Party leader to head its operations Downunder. In 2002, it appointed Andrew Peacock to the role.