Jo Townsend Joins Guardians of NZ Superannuation

Jo Townsend has assumed the role of Chief Executive at the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, overseeing the management of the NZ$70 billion NZ Super Fund. Prior to this appointment, Townsend served as CEO of Funds SA from 2015 to 2023. She brings a wealth of experience in the superannuation sector, having held various roles at REST Industry Super and worked in investment positions at NGS Super, Retirement Benefits Fund, Value Capital Management, and Rothschild Australia Asset Management.

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.” 

Commenting on her appointment, Jo 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.” 

Townsend's career trajectory reflects her dedication to the finance industry and superannuation sector. With a Bachelor's degree in mathematics and finance from the University of Technology Sydney, she holds a Certified Investment Management Analyst designation and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Additionally, Townsend serves as an independent member of the Investment Advisory Committee of the Australian Olympic Foundation, showcasing her commitment to financial stewardship and strategic leadership.

Source: NZ Superfund