Who are the most powerful women in the Australian professional directors’ club? Crikey has out together a top 20, but we’re keen for any suggestions on the next few.  Send suggestions into boss@crikey.com.au

The former National Australia Bank treasury boss and linguistic guru Patricia Cross has picked up a directorship at Qantas from January 1, confirming her strong relationship with chairwoman Margaret Jackson and suggesting the skeleton of being a former AMP director is not a problem in the directors’ club.

Having bowed out of AMP before being eligible for any director retirement benefits, maybe she is not as cashed up as she’d like to be because her initial vote of confidence in Qantas is holding of just 2000 shares.

Patricia was deputy chairman of Victoria’s monopoly third party insurer, The Transport Accident Commission, under Jackson but quit when Jackson lost a power struggle in 2001-02 that saw the government appoint James Mackenzie as her successor ahead of Patricia.

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Given that Patricia is also a director of Wesfarmers, she comes very close to re-entering the top 10 in terms of professional female directors.

So who are the most influential professional female directors in Australia? Clearly Jacko leads the pack with her chairmanship at QANTAS and board seats with Fairfax, ANZ and Billabong.

Here is a stab at what we reckon is the top 20 in order of their influence.

1. Margaret Jackson: former KPMG partner and chair QANTAS, director ANZ, Fairfax and Billabong and former director of BHP and Pacific Dunlop.

2. Linda Nicholls:
Chair of Australia Post and director of Perpetual Trustees, Sigma Pharmaceutical Group, Insurance Manufacturers Australia, St George Bank and Healthscope where she is Deputy Chairman.

3. Catherine Walter: retired corporate lawyer and now deputy chairman of NAB and a director of ASX and Orica.

4. Jillian Broadbent: former investment banker now a director of the Reserve Bank, Woodside Petroleum, Coca-Cola Amatil, Westfield Management Ltd and SBS.

5. Helen Nugent:
former senior Westpac executive and now a director of Macquarie Bank, Unitab, Origin Energy and Australia Post.

6. Catherine Livingstone: the former Cochlear CEO is a director of Telstra, CSIRO, Q-Vis and Rural Press.

7. Helen Lynch: former Westpac executive and now a director of Westpac and Southcorp after recently quitting Coles Myer and OPSM where she was chairwoman before the Italian takeover.

8. Diane Grady: former investment banker and now director of Woolworths., BHP Steel, Wattyl and the Lend Lease US Office Trust.

9. Meredith Hellicar: former spindoctor and now director of AMP, James Hardie, Southern Cross Airports, NSW Treasury Corporation and HIH Claims Support Limited. Also chairs HLA Envirosciences and is a member of the Takeovers Panel.

10.  Carolyn Hewson: director of CSR, Westpac and AGL.

11. Barbara Ward: the former Keating adviser and TNT executive is Chairman of Country Energy and a director of Commonwealth Bank, Lion Nathan Limited, Multiplex and law firm Allens Arthur Robinson.

12. Elizabeth Alexander: the former PWC partner is on the board of Amcor, Boral and CSL as well being a member of the Takeovers Panel and Financial Reporting Council and a former President of the AICD.

13. Elizabeth Bryan: the former CEO of NSW State Super is now a Director of Caltex Australia and Ridley Corp and a Trustee of the $10 billion fund, Unisuper, and a director of Guild Insurance and Financial Services Limited.

14. Judith Sloan: half-time Productivity Commissioner since 1998, deputy chairman of the ABC and a director Mayne and Santos whilst chairman of SGIC Holdings.

15. Patricia Cross: former NAB treasury boss now on the board of Wesfarmers and Qantas.

16. Paula Dwyer: investment banker now on the board of Promina and David Jones.

17. Elana Rubin: director of the Victorian Workcover Authority, the TAC, UniSuper, Vic Rail Track Corp, Development Australia Funds Management Ltd, Hotel Leisure and Tourism Trust Aust and Industry
Superannuation Property Trust.

18. Professor Adrienne Clarke: Director of Woolworths, Fisher and Paykel, Healthcare Corp, WMC, Tridan Ltd and Hexima Ltd.

19. Sandra McPhee: the retiring Qantas executive is a director of Coles Myer, Australia Post and Primelife.

20. Patty Akopiantz: former marketing director of David Jones who now sits on the Coles Myer board.

21.  Susan Oliver: director of Transurban, MBF, Programmed Maintenance Services and the former chair of ScreenSound Australia.

22. Elizabeth Nosworthy: currently on the boards of GPT, Stanwell Corporation (chairman) and Prime Infrastructure (chairman) and previously has been chairman of the Port of Brisbane Corporation, deputy chairman of Queensland Treasury Corporation and a director of Telstra, David Jones and Brisbane Airport Corporation.

23. Katie Lahey:  Chief Executive of the BCA and has been on a number of boards including Hills Motoway, David Jones and Australia Post.


We’ll expand this list to the top 30. All suggestions to boss@crikey.com.au.

We’ve lifted several of these brief CVs from a website called Chief Executive Women where you can check out the full list of members and their CVs.