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exclusive News July 6, 2022

Darren Aboud Exits Universal Music Australia (EXCLUSIVE)

Darren Aboud Exits Universal Music Australia (EXCLUSIVE)

Darren Aboud is set to leave his longstanding post as joint managing director of Universal Music Australia, TMN can confirm. His departure comes as the major grapples with a culture crisis.

Aboud had been working within Universal Music for over two decades. Even his two-and-a-half-year stint as GM at UK brand partnership firm BrandAmp from 2008 was part of a joint venture between Universal Music Group and global communications agency WP.

Before accepting the role as co-managing director of UMA alongside Mike Taylor in 2019, Aboud held a number of senior Sydney-based roles across its marketing and brand functions.

A spokesperson for UMG declined to comment for this story.

Confirmation that Aboud will leave the business arrives two weeks after one of UMG’s highest-ranking executives made the 15-hour journey from the U.S. to Australia, as the major label grapples with a culture crisis.

UMG’s executive vice president and chief people and inclusion officer, Eric Hutcherson, touched down in Sydney on June 22 and addressed staff the following day, where he admitted that no decision had been made on who would lead the Australian branch through its cultural shift. 

Multiple people in attendance of that meeting told TMN they felt “invigorated” and “hopeful” following Hutcherson’s address. Australian president George Ash also spoke briefly, where he labelled some media “dickheads”.

Hutcherson’s arrival in Sydney came three days after this masthead first reported that a second investigation into alleged workplace misconduct at its Australian headquarters is currently underway, multiple sources familiar with the complaints told TMN.

It follows an external investigation last year – first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nathanael Cooper – into multiple claims of workplace bullying, harassment, racism, homophobia, discrimination, and more serious sexual assault allegations.

As first reported by TMN on June 9, UMA announced a workplace Task Force program to help improve its culture. In a staff memo, Ash acknowledged that the company “has some relics from the past” that “need to be addressed to move forward.”

TMN is not suggesting any wrongdoing by Aboud or other UMA executives.

More to come…

Know something we don’t? Email any tips to [email protected] or contact the writers directly.

How did we get here? A timeline of Universal Music Australia’s Culture Reset:

August 9, 2021: Universal Music Australia Launches Workplace Culture Investigation
October 6, 2021: Ben Facey Out of Universal Music
June 9, 2022: UMA Launches Culture Task Force: Read The Internal Memo (EXCLUSIVE)
June 20, 2022: Universal Music Australia Faces Fresh Workplace Misconduct Investigation (EXCLUSIVE)
June 22, 2022: Universal Music’s Global HR Boss, Eric Hutcherson, Arrives in Australia Amid Culture Crisis (EXCLUSIVE)
July 6, 2022: Darren Aboud Exits Universal Music Australia (EXCLUSIVE)
July 7, 2022: Universal Music Reveals Leadership Changes, John O’Donnell Retires

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