Jo Townsend is to become chief executive of Funds SA on April 20 leaving REST Super after seven years in a variety of roles, most recently as chief operating officer.

Townsend started her career as a fixed income manager, before moving to REST as an investment manager, rising to become general manager of investments before being made chief operating officer in October following Paul Sayer’s departure from the fund to TWU Super.

In her new role she will oversee the management of $24 billion of funds on behalf of public sector superannuation in South Australia and state government agencies such as the Motor Accident Commission and the Lifetime Support Authority.

The operation based in Adelaide has a seven strong investment team led by acting head of investments Mike Grdosic. Townsend will also oversee teams for financial management, investor services, corporate services and a governance, risk and compliance function.

Dr Helen Nugent, chair of Funds SA, said one of the first decisions to be made once Townsend starts was to decide whether she would lead the investment team – a function that former chief executive Richard Smith combined with his role.

Nugent added that the appointment did not herald any change of strategic direction for Funds SA.

Townsend replaces Smith who retired in January. John Piteo, chief financial officer at the fund, has served as Funds SA’s acting chief executive since January 6.

REST is not making any comment about the loss of Townsend.