Sony Music announces Vanessa Picken as new CEO to replace

Global multinational Sony Music Entertainment has announced the new head of its Australian operations, almost one year to the day after its Australian chief executive of 25 years, Denis Handlin, suddenly left under a cloud of allegations about a toxic workplace culture under his leadership.

On Wednesday, Sony’s head office in New York announced that Los Angeles-based Australian Vanessa Picken would take over the chair and chief executive roles of Sony Music Entertainment Australia and New Zealand.

In a statement, Sony chairman, Rob Stringer, said Picken would return to Australia and begin her new role in September, overseeing all operations, artist signings, marketing and business partnerships for the company.

Picken is the managing director of the independent global music company PIAS in California, playing a key role in the discovery and development of a number of artists including the triple BRIT award-winning artist Arlo Parks.

In a statement, Picken said she looked forward to taking the company “into a transformative next chapter”.

Sony Music Australia has been leaderless from almost 12 months after Handlin’s sudden departure on 21 June 2021, the same day Guardian Australia published an extensive investigation into allegations by former employees of workplace sexual harassment, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and gender discrimination spanning more than two decades under Handlin’s leadership.

None of the former Sony employees Guardian Australia spoke to made any allegations of sexual harassment against Handlin himself, although they were critical of the workplace culture at the company while Handlin was chief executive.

The New York office, which had been aware of problems with Handlin’s management style since the late 1990s, promised it would conduct a full investigation and issued a statement at the time saying harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behaviour would not be tolerated by the company.

The results of the investigation have not been released.