Ash Klein after being appointed Hawthorn CEO on September 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN has appointed Ash Klein as the club’s new chief executive officer following a thorough process across the past two months that identified the interim boss as the best choice. 

Klein joined the Hawks as chief commercial officer in early 2018 and stepped up in an acting capacity following the sudden departure of Justin Reeves at the end of May.

Before moving to Waverley Park just over five years ago, Klein spent more than a decade at Collingwood, where he rose from corporate sales executive to the Magpies' general manager of commercial partnerships and sales.

Klein has been involved in a range of Hawthorn’s key sponsorship and partnership deals including Nissan, KFC, iiNet, Skechers, ISC and Tasmania.

Hawthorn scoured the executive market across the country during a process that included more than two rounds of extensive interviews, speaking to current club CEOS, GMs, executives at the AFL and others across Australian sport.

It is understood that Klein’s leadership amid a challenging year at the club and his intimate knowledge of every department made him a stand out candidate throughout the process, winning admirers at the AFL as he emerged as the best option for Hawthorn.

Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

Finding a replacement for Reeves has been one of the first key decisions for Andy Gowers to make since he replaced Jeff Kennett as president at the end of last year.

Gowers was on the committee alongside vice-president Katie Hudson, executive GM of people, culture and community Sally McNeilly, board director Owen Wilson and four-time premiership great Chris Langford to help find the most suitable candidate.

The Hawks also engaged Six Degrees – the executive recruitment agency that North Melbourne used last year – to run the process.

Andy Gowers is pictured after Hawthorn's clash against North Melbourne in round 18, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Hawthorn was always planning to make an appointment before the conclusion of the 2023 season and will now have an opportunity to present the appointment at next month’s Peter Crimmins Medal.

Klein will become Hawthorn’s fifth CEO since 2005, following the long tenures of Ian Robson and Stuart Fox, before Tracy Gaudry’s short stint ahead of Reeves' arrival in 2017.

After spending the early stages of his professional career in venue operations with the Sydney Olympics organising committee and Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Klein becomes the second Hawthorn executive promoted to a club CEO role in the past few years.

Adelaide CEO Tim Silvers landed the role at West Lakes at the start of 2021 after spending 17 years with the Hawks where he finished at the club as the chief operating officer.