Jac Nasser, Douglas Daft, Rupert Murdoch, Geoffrey Bible, John Pizzey, James Wolfensohn, Philip Bowman, Rod Eddington, Doug Flynn and the late Charlie Bell. These are just some of the Australians who’ve left our shores and made it to the top of multi-national companies. They’ve also made it onto Crikey’s list of the 50 most successful Australian CEO exports.

There’s now another name to add: Mike Quigley has this week been anointed heir apparent at French telecommunications giants Alcatel. Check out TheAustralian’s coverage here. As we’ve remarked before, Australia’s inability to retain its executive talent to build more globally recognised Australian-based and Australian-owned businesses is a blight on our nation.

Given the obvious ability of Australians to run multi-nationals, the stranger phenomenon is our need to import CEOs. The current crop of foreigners, in order of market capitalisation, include BHP’s Chip Goodyear, NAB’s John Stewart, ANZ’s John McFarlane, Woodside’s Don Voelte, St George’s Gail Kelly, Brambles’ David Turner, Axa’s Les Owen, Bluescope Steel’s Kirby Adams and Lend Lease’s Greg Clarke.

That’s four of the top 10 and nine of the top 35 companies, which is surely a higher ratio than any other modern democracy.

Peter Fray

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