Revolving Doors

Jim McDowell

Jim McDowell

Military | Revolving Doors

After 37 years in military industry, Jim McDowell moved straight from BAE Systems Saudi Arabia onto the board of the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation as Deputy Chair; soon after he was made Chair. McDowell was given numerous lucrative Defence contracts, joined the boards of several military industry companies, and was also Chancellor of the University of South Australia, which has extensive research links with military industry. He was the Chief Executive, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, South Australia, “The Defence State” from 2018 to 2020 and now serves on chair and non-executive director of numerous companies and organisations.

Current Positions

Group Chief Executive Officer, Nova Systems Ltd (Dec 2020–present)

Director, Australian Strategic Policy Institute Ltd (20.12.16–present)*

* ASIC record (accessed 2.6.20)

Previous Positions

Public administrative positions

Chief Executive, SA Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Sep 2018 – Dec 2020)
[4.11.20 McDowell resigned effective 27.11.20 and will exit government via the revolving door straight back to industry, joining Jim Whalley’s Nova Group as Chief Executive on 30.11.20]

Director, Adelaide Football Club Ltd (Apr 2017 – Jul 2020)*

Chair, Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) (30.8.17–31.8.18)^, including Director, Defence CRC TAS Ltd (28.2.18–31.8.18)*

Government adviser, Naval Shipbuilding Plan development (10.1.17–2.6.17)^

Director, Malek Fahd Islamic School (5.5.16–31.12.16)*

Chair, Air Warfare Destroyer Principals Council (11.2.16–31.8.18)^

Chancellor, University of South Australia (1.1.1631.8.18)

Expert Advisory Panel, Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process (4.6.15–30.6.16)^

Defence First Principles Review, implementation oversight board (11.5.15–[unknown])

Defence First Principles Review team (22.8.14–31.3.15)^

Member, Defence External Gate Review Board (21.3.14–30.6.17)^

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) (12.12.1331.8.18), initially as Deputy Chair (12.12.13–21.8.14), then Chair (21.8.1431.8.18)

Chair, Advisory Board, Defence Systems Innovation Centre (joint undertaking Adelaide University/University of South Australia) (2009)

* ASIC record (accessed 2.6.20)
^ Austender contracts (accessed 8.6.20)

Corporate positions

Director, Australian Defence Accelerator Ltd (11.10.17–31.8.18)*

Director, Techstars Australian Defence Accelerator Pty Ltd (11.10.17–31.8.18)*

Director, Micro-X Limited (11.9.17–31.8.18)*

Chair, duMonde Group Pty Ltd [dates unknown/awaiting response from company]

Chair, Total Construction Pty Ltd (2014 – Aug 2018)

Director, Austal Limited (31.12.14–31.8.18)*

Director, Codan Limited (1.9.14–31.8.18)*

CEO, BAE Systems Saudi Arabia (Sept 2011–Dec 2013)

CEO, BAE Systems Australia Ltd (10.4.01–12.9.11)*

Regional Managing Director–Asia, BAE Systems (Hong Kong) (1999–2001)

British Aerospace, Singapore (1996–1999)

Bombardier Shorts, Northern Ireland (1977–1995)

* ASIC record (accessed 2.6.20)

Weapons of Influence: BAE arms boss turns Premier’s right-hand man

Related Items

17.9.18 When asked about McDowell, “Defence Minister and South Australian MP Christopher Pyne effused about the ‘spectacular working relationship’ the pair had developed around weapons, warships and military gear while McDowell was in his former role… The defence industry is quite valuable to the SA economy and Premier Steven Marshall has previously said one reason he hired McDowell was to help the state attract military-industrial projects, particularly in shipbuilding.”

26.2.14 Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane appointed McDowell to the ANSTO board, saying, “Mr McDowell’s business background coupled with his knowledge of international marketing and joint ventures will support the development of emerging business opportunities [for ANSTO] and capitalise on the significant benefits the new facility will provide…”

James is studying a bachelor of Communication (Journalism) at the University of Technology Sydney. He is a producer at 2SER radio and contributor at UTS’s Central News.

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