The ASX 200 will soon have one less female CEO, after Dreamworld’s parent company Ardent Leisure Group announced major leadership changes this morning, including the replacement of Deborah Thomas as CEO.
Thomas has instead been appointed to the newly created position of Chief Customer Officer for the group, and Chief Operating Officer for the Australasia market. The company’s announcement on the move indicates that Thomas instigated the leadership change.
Thomas is currently one of just eight female CEOs on the ASX 200, excluding Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather who has announced she will be leaving her position in the coming months. At the beginning of the year, there were ten women leading such organisations, prior to Laura McBain’s resignation as CEO of Bellamy’s.
Simon Kelly has been appointed to the Ardent Leisure Group CEO position. He is the former COO and CFO of Nine Entertainment Co.
Ardent’s statement to the ASX this morning said the leadership changes reflect its key focus on the US market. It says Thomas’ new role will see her “prioritising the ongoing transformation of the Theme Parks business, group marketing, media and corporate affairs, as well as the Group’s objective to deliver world class entertainment experiences to its approximately 20 million annual visitors.” Her focus will also include “overseeing the recovery and revitalization of Dreamworld.”
Thomas has been CEO and managing director of the Group since April 2015, after joining originally as a non-executive director in 2013. She came under fire last year, for her initial response to a major Dreamworld accident that resulted in the deaths of four people on the Gold Coast.