Sony Music Australia announces new CEO Vanessa Picken one year after Denis Handlin exit


Sony Music Australia FINALLY announces a new CEO one year after Denis Handlin was ousted amid allegations of a ‘toxic’ work culture

Sony Music has finally appointed a new CEO for its Australian and New Zealand operations, one year after former chairman Denis Handlin was ousted from the company amid an investigation into workplace misconduct.

The music conglomerate announced on Wednesday that Australian music executive Vanessa Picken will take over the top job starting in September.

Ms Picken, who is currently based in Los Angeles, will relocate to Sydney for the role.

Sony Music has finally appointed a new CEO for its Australian and New Zealand operations, one year after former chairman Denis Handlin was ousted from the company amid an investigation into workplace misconduct. Australian music executive Vanessa Picken (pictured), who is currently based in LA, will take over the top job starting in September

Sony Music has finally appointed a new CEO for its Australian and New Zealand operations, one year after former chairman Denis Handlin was ousted from the company amid an investigation into workplace misconduct. Australian music executive Vanessa Picken (pictured), who is currently based in LA, will take over the top job starting in September

Ms Picken boasts more than 15 years of experience in leadership, artist and label management, and digital entertainment marketing. 

‘After a careful and thorough recruitment process, we are delighted to have Vanessa join our company in such a key role,’ Sony Music Group chairman Rob Stringer said in a statement. 

‘Her impressive background covers so many areas of the modern music business in Australia and New Zealand and her recent leadership experience in the United States adds a global understanding to those existing skills.

‘We believe Vanessa will be a trailblazing executive leading Sony Music Australia to an exciting future.’

News of Ms Picken's appointment comes a year after the company's former CEO Denis Handlin abruptly exited Sony Music. At the time, the company was being investigated over allegations of bullying and harassment by other employees

News of Ms Picken’s appointment comes a year after the company’s former CEO Denis Handlin abruptly exited Sony Music. At the time, the company was being investigated over allegations of bullying and harassment by other employees

Ms Picken said she was ‘delighted’ to be ‘coming home’ to Australia for this new role, and vowed to ‘take the company into a transformative next chapter’. 

News of Ms Picken’s appointment comes a year after the company’s former CEO Denis Handlin abruptly exited the company. 

At the time, the company was being investigated over allegations of bullying and harassment by other employees.

Before he was ousted, Mr Handlin (pictured in September 2007) was one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry and helped stars like Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Gang of Youths achieve international fame

Before he was ousted, Mr Handlin (pictured in September 2007) was one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry and helped stars like Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Gang of Youths achieve international fame 

Before he was ousted, Mr Handlin was one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry and helped stars like Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Gang of Youths achieve international fame. 

Mr Stringer announced Handlin’s departure in a staff email in June last year. 

‘I am writing to let you know that Denis Handlin will be leaving Sony Music Entertainment after more than 50 years with the company, effectively immediately,’ he wrote.

‘It is time for a change in leadership and I will be making further announcements in terms of the new direction of our business in Australia and New Zealand in due course.’ 

Sony Music's global chairman Rob Stringer announced Handlin's (pictured) departure in a staff email in June last year

Sony Music’s global chairman Rob Stringer announced Handlin’s (pictured) departure in a staff email in June last year

Mr Stringer went on to thank Mr Handlin – Sony Music’s longest-serving employee anywhere in the world – for his ‘extraordinary contribution’ to the company.

Mr Handlin’s son Pat, a fellow Sony Music executive, was stood down a day later. 

The departures came just days after it was revealed that Sony Music was investigating claims of bullying and harassment within its Australian office.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Denis or Pat Handlin were involved in any of the allegations.

Mr Handlin's son Pat, a Sony Music Australia executive, was stood down a day after his father. (Pat Handlin is pictured with his fiancée Samantha Jade)

Mr Handlin’s son Pat, a Sony Music Australia executive, was stood down a day after his father. (Pat Handlin is pictured with his fiancée Samantha Jade)

Denis Handlin and his rise at Sony 

Sony Music Australia boss Denis Handlin resigned after 50 years with the company last June. 

His resignation marked the end of an era that saw artists like Delta Goodrem, Gang of Youths and Men at Work rise to fame.

Mr Handlin was born in Brisbane in 1951 and took up his first job in the mailroom with the Australian Record Company – later renamed to Sony Music – in 1970.  

He later spent time in key roles such as national promotions manager, director of marketing and  general manager of marketing and sales.

He was made managing director and chief executive in 1984 before rising to the role of chairman in 1996. 

Mr Handlin headed the company during the merger between Sony Music and Bertelsmann Media Group in 2004. 

His responsibilities expanded well beyond Australia and New Zealand as he oversaw offices in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, the Middle East region, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 

His company bio described him as a ‘highly competitive spirit’. 

‘Under his leadership, Australian artists such as Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, John Farnham, Daryl Braithwaite, Tina Arena, Delta Goodrem, Human Nature, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, David Campbell, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Gang of Youths and Ruel have achieved international recognition and success,’ it reads. 

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