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Ms Jo Townsend has been appointed Chief Executive of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, the Crown entity that manages the NZ$70 billion NZ Super Fund. 

Guardians Chair John Williamson said: “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.  Most recently Jo led the transformation of Funds SA – an AU$40 billion institutional investor of public sector funds – where she oversaw a significant growth in that organisation’s capabilities. 

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

“As the first externally-appointed CEO since Mr Adrian Orr in 2007, Jo will bring a fresh industry perspective and considerable experience to the Guardians.  We believe she is the right person to lead us into the future.” 

Ms Townsend said: “I am 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.” 

Ms Townsend will take up her new role in April 2024; Ms Paula Steed will continue as Acting CEO until then. 

Mr Williamson said: “Paula has made a superb contribution as Acting CEO of the Guardians and her efforts in maintaining momentum on our key strategic initiatives during this time have been deeply appreciated by the Board.” 

Ms Townsend was CEO of Funds SA between 2015 and 2023.  Prior to 2015, she held various roles at REST Industry Super, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, including as General Manager, Investments and Acting Chief Operating Officer. Earlier in her career she held investment roles at NGS Super, Retirement Benefits Fund, Value Capital Management and Rothschild Australia Asset Management.  Ms Townsend has a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and finance from the University of Technology Sydney, is a Certified Investment Management Analyst, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is also an independent member of the Investment Advisory Committee of the Australian Olympic Foundation.