New Qantas chairman Goyder to replace Clifford
29/06/2018 | Author: Eli Greenblat, The Australian
Former Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder has been handed the most coveted chairmanship in the nation, with the corporate high-flyer who grew up on his family’s Tambellup sheep and grain farm in rural Western Australia to become the next chairman of Qantas.
The role, which is often required to navigate intense political scrutiny, adds to his already impressive boardroom trophies that include chairman of the nation’s premier sporting code, the Australian Football League, and Woodside chairman.
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford will step down from his role in October after 11 years at the helm. His tenure marks one of the most transformative and disruptive periods in the airline’s history that saw it regroup after the failure of an aggressive takeover bid from private equity, massive job losses and heated clashes with unions, and stiff competition from cashed-up international airlines. Its share price collapsed in the process but has soared since.
Mr Clifford’s time at the top also accompanies record profit — and losses — with Qantas posting a stunning turnaround after unsuccessfully seeking a government bailout just five years ago.
For Qantas, it will bring a new mindset to the crucial chairman’s role as Mr Clifford, a hardened miner who earned his stripes as a mining engineer and went to become the boss of Rio Tinto, makes way for Mr Goyder, who spent 24 years with Wesfarmers overseeing retailers such as Coles, Bunnings hardware and a portfolio of energy, insurance and industrial services businesses.
Mr Goyder served as the group’s chief executive for 12 years, from 2005 to 2017.
Now that the chairman’s role at Qantas has been settled, with Mr Goyder to take over at the end of the airline’s annual general meeting on October 26, the key item on the new chair’s agenda will be to find someone to ultimately replace long-serving chief executive Alan Joyce.
But, not so fast. Mr Joyce yesterday hinted he would be around to serve under Mr Goyder for quite some time.
“Leigh has been a stellar chairman for Qantas and I’m looking forward to working with Richard in the years ahead,’’ Mr Joyce said yesterday.
On his departure from Wesfarmers last year, Mr Goyder fulfilled speculation by eventually grabbing the chairmanship of the AFL. After being appointed to the Qantas board last year, he was considered a shoo-in to eventually replace Mr Clifford.
Mr Goyder is also deeply involved with JDRF Australia, a global organisation funding type 1 diabetes research, of which he is co-chair as well chair of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and Channel 7 Telethon Trust.
Significantly, Mr Goyder will now get to choose who becomes a member of the coveted Qantas Chairman’s Lounge.
“Qantas is an iconic Australian company and one of the best performing airline groups in the world. I’m honoured to be named its chairman and look forward to working with my board colleagues to help it take advantage of the opportunities ahead,’’ Mr Goyder said yesterday.
Mr Clifford said: “The national carrier has never been in a stronger position and that’s a credit to the management team and the 30,000 employees that make up the Qantas Group family.
“Richard is one of the most experienced business leaders in Australia and an excellent choice to lead the Qantas board into the future,” added Mr Clifford, who will also leave the Qantas board in October.
Mr Clifford’s shuffle to the departure gate bookmarks one of the most tumultuous times in Qantas’s nearly 100-year history. He took over the reins in 2007 from former chair Margaret Jackson, who had endorsed an $11.1 billion takeover bid from the Airline Partners Australia private equity consortium.
That bid just fell 4 per cent short of success, but in hindsight proved a win for shareholders with the share price last week hitting an all-time high of $6.71, eclipsing the private equity bid of $5.45 a share.
Mr Clifford went into bat for Mr Joyce many times as chair, especially when Mr Joyce copped criticism for a decision to embark on a $2bn cost-cutting plan that included the loss of 5000 jobs and a battle with the unions.