There are very few former politicians or bureaucrats who genuinely make it into the directors' club, but retired DFAT secretary Ashton Calvert is now the most notable exception to the rule following his appointment to the Woodside Petroleum board yesterday.

Dr Calvert only retired in January this year but was immediately appointed to the Rio Tinto board, which gives him two top 10 companies, something no other bureaucrat or politician has ever achieved.

The only other former Howard Government bureaucrats to flourish in the private sector are Max Moore-Wilton, who's running Sydney Airport, former Cabinet Secretary Paul McClintock, who has just been appointed chairman of Affinity Health and also sits on one of the Macquarie investment management boards, and former Treasury Secretary Ted Evans who is a Westpac director.

Nick Greiner has been the most successful politician on boards in recent years, but even he only has QBE and Stockland as his most prestigious directorships. Former Treasury deputy secretary Dr David Morgan has certainly flourished as the CEO of Westpac, although he spent nine years at the bank earnings his stripes before landing the top job.

In terms of former politicians or bureaucrats on board, it is more notable to list those that haven't been accepted by the top end of town. Alan Stockdale was the guru Victorian Treasurer who finished up as a humble external relations boss for Macquarie Bank's tollroad arm and is now running the IR practice for a small Melbourne law firm.

Stockers wanted to become president of the Melbourne Football Club but didn't have the numbers, just like his former boss Jeff Kennett appears to be struggling in his push to become president of Hawthorn. Kennett was emphatically rejected by the top end of town and the handful of small listed company boards he joined all struggled.

Other former premiers like Richard Court, Wayne Goss and Neville Wran have all made it onto the boards of relatively small listed companies and then you have a raft of former ministers in a similar position, including Robert Webster, Larry Anthony, Richard Alston, David Hamill and Keith de Lacy.

Check out Crikey's slightly out-dated politicians on boards list here and drop us a line to [email protected] with any updates or corrections.