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Engineering advocate: Dale Gilson comes to the role of CEO of Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia from Motorcycling Australia.

THE former chief executive of Motorcycling Australia, Dale Gilson, has been appointed CEO of the Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia (SAE-A).

SAE-A president Adrian Feeney said Natalie Roberts had decided to step down as CEO after almost three years in the job, opening the path for Mr Gilson who brings considerable experience in not-for-profit organisations to the role.

His appointment comes at a critical time for the industry as the three local car manufacturers – Ford, Holden and Toyota – all realign their businesses as national sales companies with the closure of their Australian production facilities over the next two years, although Ford in particular is maintaining a significant vehicle development operation.

Despite making engineering cutbacks, Holden announced in September last year that it would retain its Port Melbourne-based Powertrain Engineering and Calibration department beyond the closure of its manufacturing operations in 2017, and will set up a new Advanced Vehicle Development team.

As well as serving as CEO of Motorcycling Australia – a position he held for 14 months before resigning in August last year – Mr Gilson has worked in a variety of senior sporting industry roles over more than a decade including head of Speedway Australia for almost five years (July 2009 to March 2014), Four Wheel Drive Victoria (two years) and Table Tennis Victoria (three years).

He also spent two years as marketing and sponsorship manager for Netball Victoria, while earlier in his career Mr Gilson worked in the technology industry in sales, marketing and management positions. This included seven years as general manager of Specialty Business Systems.

In announcing the appointment, Mr Feeney said he was impressed by Mr Gilson’s “calm, methodical approach to issues – and his track record and experience will be a good fit for our organisation”.

“There is much more for Dale to do to implement the plans initiated by Natalie as well as for him to develop his own vision for SAE-A,” he said. “As president, I am looking forward to the next few months as Dale settles into the role and starts to have an impact on our society.”

He also paid tribute to Ms Roberts, thanking her for “the outstanding job she has done for us”.

Mr Gilson said he was “looking forward to taking on the role and further building on the good work already done by Natalie, the staff and volunteers, and the SAE-A board”.

“I’m excited to be given the opportunity to be part of such a long-standing and respected organisation and I am looking forward to working with all our members, stakeholders and corporate partners,” he said.

By Terry Martin