Ai Group announces new chief executive, replacing Heather Ridout

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has announced its new chief executive, to replace outgoing Heather Ridout; Innes Willox will lead the industry advocate group from 1 May.

Willox has been working within the Group since 2008 as director international and government relations, organising policy development and doing advocacy work.

According to Ai Group national president, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, members of Ai Group’s leadership team have “great confidence in his ability to continue to grow the organisation in the years ahead.” 

Appointing Willcox, Ai Group’s national executive recognized his achievements in his current role. 

Willox reportedly has a strong background in senior roles in the private and public sectors both in Australia and internationally. 

“It is a great honour to be appointed as Chief Executive of an association with such a long and successful history of representing the interests of Australian industry,” said Willox.

“The organisation has been superbly led to become the most influential business representative group in the country.  I will lead a well-established, talented and committed team focused on serving our members’ interests. 

“I will continue to strongly advocate policies that support the growth of industry in Australia while maintaining Ai Group’s deeply held non-partisan values.  

“This is a challenging time for industry and getting the productivity boosting policies right across the economy, including on workplace relations, skills, innovation, energy and taxation is fundamental to Australia’s prosperity.” 

Willox is already on the Board of Innovation Australia and the Defence Industry Innovation Board. 

He is also executive director of the Ai Group Defence Council and chairman of the Trade Remedies Task Force. 

“Through his work on developing and advocating procurement policies that give Australian based businesses a fair go, he has been a forceful advocate for Australian manufacturing,” said Di Bartolomeo.

Di Bartolomeo also recognised Ridout’s achievements over the years. 

“There has been no greater advocate for Australian Industry than Heather Ridout,” he said.  

“She has devoted 33 years to Ai Group and leaves the organisation in great shape both financially and operationally.  She leaves with enormous goodwill and our sincere thanks.”

Ridout will begin her five-year stint on the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia today.

She will reportedly continue to represent Ai Group on a number of important external bodies including Skills Australia and the AustralianSuper Trustee Board.  She is also a Director of Sims Metal Management.  

Ridout said: “I leave Ai Group in good shape and in good hands. I have been fortunate to have been part of Ai Group for such a long period of time but even more so over the past eight years as Chief Executive. It is an extraordinary organisation full of wonderful people, supported by great representatives of Australian business and industry and underpinned by an immensely loyal membership. I have no doubt that the organisation has a great future and I have every confidence it will go from success to success.”



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