Degree of Doctor of Business presented to global business leader  

22 May 2023
David Thodey awarded Doctor of Business by the University of Sydney
David Thodey AO has received a degree of Doctor of Business for his contributions to business, telecommunications and public service.

David Thodey AO was awarded a degree of Doctor of Business (honoris causa) on Friday, 19 May, in a ceremony presided over by Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC. 

“David’s career has impacted the lives of millions of Australians through his leadership roles in improving telecommunications and the adoption of digital technologies.  He has also demonstrated his commitment to public service as Chair of the CSIRO, the Australian Public Sector Review and as Deputy Chair of the National COVID-19 Advisory Board.

"We are grateful for David’s support of the University as Chair of Tech Central.  It’s an honour to celebrate his extraordinary community contribution, particularly to the nation’s research and development agenda.” said Chancellor Hutchinson.

David Thodey at his Honorary Doctorate ceremony

Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC (left), David Thodey AO (left/centre), Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott AO (right/centre) and Business Dean Leisa Sargent (right). 

Mr Thodey studied Anthropology and English at Victoria University of Wellington before completing a postgraduate general management program at Northwestern University in Chicago. 

He began working at IBM early in his career and spent 22 years at the organisation. While at the company, he held several senior executive positions across the Asia Pacific before returning to Australia to become Chief Executive Officer of IBM Australia and New Zealand. 

In 2001, Mr Thodey joined the Australian telecommunications company Telstra as its Group Managing Director, and in 2009 he rose to Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, he doubled Telstra’s value, achieved almost 95 percent penetration of the 4G mobile network nationwide, and led a customer-centred business transformation. 

After resigning from Telstra in 2015, he took on roles within the New South Wales and Federal Government. Alongside these positions, he served as Chair of Australasian technology companies, Tyro and Xero.

In 2017, he was appointed non-executive director of Ramsay Health Care, one of the country’s largest private hospital operators – Ramsay has since expanded into hospital networks in the United Kingdom and France. 

We are grateful for David’s support of the University as Chair of Tech Central. It’s an honour to celebrate his extraordinary community contribution.
Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC

Mr Thodey was Chair of Australia’s Prestigious national scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), between 2015 and 2021. He oversaw the developing and implementation of the 2020 strategy, which focused on benefitting Australia through impactful science and innovation. 

Alongside his work in telecommunications and business, he has impacted public policy by leading a review of the Sydney Tech and Innovation Precinct between 2017 and 2019. He also chaired the independent review of the Australian Public Service in 2019, and in 2020 he was appointed by the NSW government to head a steering group to advise the State’s Tech Central precinct.

In 2020, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Mr Thodey as Deputy Chair of the Federal Government’s National COVID-19 Coordination Common Advisory Board. The body was responsible for advising the government on public-private partnerships and navigating the social and economic impact of the pandemic in Australia. 

Mr Thodey is internationally and locally recognised for his contributions to science and business. Among his many achievements, he was appointed an Officer of the General Division of the Order of Australia for ethical business.

He has also received an Honorary Doctorate in Science and Technology from Deakin University and an Honorary Doctorate in Business from the University of Technology Sydney.

The University of Sydney is fortunate to have Mr Thodey as a member of the University’s Finance Committee, which oversees our annual budget.

Faye Couros

Assistant Media and PR Advisor (Central)