Larry Marshall was hired to make changes at CSIRO, and that’s just what he’s achieving. Despite staff upset during industrial negotiations, he’s been given time to see out the mission to make the organisation a national innovation catalyst.
Marshall will continue to lead the organisation until at least June 30, 2020.
Marshall’s re-appointment demonstrates the CSIRO board’s confidence in his ability to execute its plan to become “Australia’s innovation catalyst” over the next four years, according to the organisation’s chair David Thodey:
“Our task as Australia’s Innovation Catalyst is great, but if we get this right we will help Australia navigate a world that is changing rapidly and ensure our country is sustainable and prosperous well into the future.
“We are committed to CSIRO delivering outstanding science for the benefit of Australia and Australian industry.”
Cabinet quietly signalled its approval of Marshall’s re-appointment in May, shortly before the election, while the board’s deliberations have apparently been running for over a year.
He has been a controversial choice, as the leader chosen to preside over major budget cuts and restructuring, including the process of transforming the former National ICT Australia into Data61 and bolting it on to the CSIRO, as well as the Abbott and Turnbull government’s shift in focus towards research that can be commercialised.
Some observers have questioned the weight of his scientific research credentials, especially when compared with many of the senior staff he leads, and the extent of his success as an entrepreneur. He is not without supporters, however, even has he leads the organisation through a period of major change.