Transpower has appointed chemical company executive Alison Andrew to replace chief executive Patrick Strange as the grid operator nears the end of a multibillion-dollar building programme and moves towards a stronger customer focus.

Andrew is a trained engineer who has held leadership positions in industries that include chemicals, dairy, paper and forest products, and oil and energy.

Most recently she has been global head of chemicals for Orica, an ASX-listed chemical and explosives firm and a director of Genesis Energy since last year.

Before that she was chief executive of Lexicon Group, an Australasian marketing and advertising company and has held a number of senior roles at Fonterra and Fletcher Challenge Energy.


She said she had worked for many big customers of electricity. "I've had lots of experience in transforming organisations that have had a very strong customer focus.

"I think those sorts of attributes are going to help Transpower."

The company was now past the peak of its substantial capital build programme with the last of the major projects due for completion shortly.

"Patrick's made some great progress and got past the capital build programme.

"The focus ahead is how to best plan and operate the grid and deliver the most value for the customer and end consumer."

Strange joined the state-owned enterprise in 2007 and will finish early next year.