Spirit Super farewells chair Naomi Edwards

Naomi Edwards
Spirit Super - Chair
Spirit Super
Date: 15 November 2022
Position: Chair
By Elizabeth Fry

after 11 years in a job she describes as the best in her life.

The outgoing chair will be replaced by industry veteran Maria Wilton.

Spirit Super chiefJason Murray said Wilton is a highly respected global investment manager with a deep knowledge of the superannuation sector.

"Maria is well known to those in our sector as a strong advocate for the industry super fund sector and achieved great growth during her tenure as chair and country head of Franklin Templeton," he said.

"She is an ESG leader and this aligns strongly with Spirit's focus on carbon reduction, impact investing, and supporting regional business."

Wilton sits on several boards, including the Victorian Funds Management Corporation, the CFA Institute, the Queensland State Investment Advisory Board and the Dexus Wholesale Property Fund.

Paying tribute to Edwards, Murray said she leaves a legacy every Spirit Super member and Tasmanian, can be proud of.

"She has built, from humble beginnings at the earliest days of compulsory superannuation, a national award-winning fund."

Murray added that no chief executive could ask for a wiser or kinder chair. "Naomi is a deeply compassionate and values-based leader with great knowledge and expertise she generously shares.

"I know I'm not the only person at Spirit who will miss her counsel and the care in which she engages with everyone she meets.

"That she leaves us in a strong position and with a potential merger partner in Care Super is a testament to her forward-thinking and strategic planning,"

Murray also pointed to the mergers that were completed on Edwards' watch namely between Quadrant Super, Tasplan Super, RBF, Fairbrothers Super and MTAA Super.

Edwards also presided over the launch of Spirit Super which is now exploring a potential merger with CareSuper, to become a $45 billion fund.

For her part, Edwards said: "It has been a pleasure and privilege to lead Spirit Super and its predecessor funds. As a proud Tasmanian, it fills me with pride to have played a part in building a nationally competitive fund, serviced and administered out of Hobart, with offices and people across the State and country."

"From $1.5 billion when I joined to now $25 billion in funds under management, the largest fund covering Tasmanians, I reflect on the families across Australia who are enjoying, or will enjoy, a more decent and comfortable retirement thanks to the investments they have accumulated through their superannuation."

The outgoing chair said in a LinkedIn post that she was saying goodbye to the best job of her life.

"Working with the amazing leadership teams and CEOs was so much fun. Spirit is a young fund and has always had whip-smart executives with passion, integrity and a sense of humour. Most recently, working with Jason Murray has been an absolute delight."

Edwards was previously a director at Hunter Hall Investment Management, and the chair of Australian Ethical Investments from 2007 and March 2011.

She was also a director of Trowbridge Consulting,  a partner at Deloitte and held senior advisory roles with the Wilderness Society, Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Greens and Animals Australia.