Rolls-Royce replaces finance director as new chief shakes up top team

Rolls-Royce CEO Tufan Erginbilgic has replaced the group’s finance director and installed new executives in its two main businesses. This is the first major reshuffle of his top team since joining the UK flagship engineering group in January.

The FTSE 100 group announced on Friday that Helen McCabe, currently senior vice president of finance for BP’s customers and products division, will take on the position of chief financial officer. She replaces Panos Kakoullis, who is stepping down at the end of August after two years in office.

As part of the overhaul, Rob Watson, who led the company’s electric aerospace operations, will become head of the company’s key commercial aerospace business, effective immediately.

Adam Riddle has been appointed as the new head of defense operations and chairman and chief executive of Rolls-Royce North America. The company previously announced that incumbent Tom Bell had decided to leave at the end of March to become CEO of US group Leidos.

Rolls-Royce is also shaking up the leadership of its small nuclear company. Tom Samson, who has headed Rolls-Royce SMR since its inception, will leave the company with immediate effect.

Chris Cholerton, who led the company’s commercial aerospace business but was promoted to group president this year, will assume executive responsibility for all nuclear operations. Cholerton will also assume the role of interim chief executive of the SMR business until a replacement is found.

Rolls-Royce said the changes are part of the transformation program launched by Erginbilgic in January. The former BP executive has acted quickly to put his stamp on the company since taking the helm from Warren East earlier this year.

In January, Erginbilgic gave an unabashed assessment of the group, telling staff that Rolls-Royce had outperformed all of its key competitors and describing Rolls-Royce as a “platform on fire”. In February, he announced a strategic review of the company’s operations.

McCabe’s appointment is the second time Erginbilgic has turned to his former employer for expertise. In February, he brought in Nicola Grady-Smith, another BP executive he had worked with while at the oil company, to lead the transformation program.

Erginbilgic said Friday that McCabe’s “track record of promoting rigorous financial discipline and experience in delivering performance management to achieve dramatic improvements will be invaluable as we move at pace to transform Rolls-Royce.”

“I would also like to express my gratitude to Panos for his commitment to Rolls-Royce and his support for me since my arrival,” he added.

The leadership changes, Erginbilgic said, showed the group “acted with pace and gained the momentum we need to transform Rolls-Royce.”

“Together, my leadership team has a winning mindset, a strong strategic direction and a shared goal of making Rolls-Royce a ‘high-performing company’.” Rolls-Royce replaces finance director as new chief shakes up top team

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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