Australia’s chairman’s club is dominated by former CEOs as this list demonstrates, but gaining entry always depends on the circumstances of your exit.
The current leading chairs such as Don Argus, James Strong, Michael Chaney and John Schubert all fit the bill, but there is also quite a long list of champion CEOs who sully their reputations in the non-executive director space.
Topping this list is Stan Wallis, who left Amcor as a legend but resigned in disgrace as AMP chairman and is perceived to have been good for not much at Coles Myer.
Two years ago, IAG CEO Michael Hawker was favoured to replace David Morgan as CEO of Westpac but a botched UK expansion strategy, some bad luck with the weather and then QBE’s takeover bear hug combined to force his resignation in a blaze of publicity yesterday that will probably cruel his chances of becoming a top non-executive chairman.
The contrast with former AMP CEO Andrew Mohl is stark indeed, as he glided straight into the CBA boardroom after retiring on a high, just as former ANZ CEO John McFarlane did with Westfield. Both could become prominent chairs if they want, but having made more than $30 million as CEOs, they may not bother.
Hawker will probably end up on this list of ousted CEOs who don’t become blue chip directors. It includes the likes of former Foster’s and Coles Myer chief Peter Bartels, NAB’s Frank Cicutto, ANZ’s Will Bailey and Southcorp’s Keith Lambert.
Hawker isn’t short of a quid as he made plenty on his Westpac shares and was collecting more than $3 million a year to run IAG. Like so many former CEOs, he is on my Rich List tracking Australians worth more than $10 million and doesn’t need to work again.
The directors have been whingeing recently about liability, excess regulation and corporate governance box-ticking, with the big warning being that top talent won’t put themselves up to be directors.
The likes of Tabcorp’s Ross Wilson and former WMC boss Hugh Morgan have clearly decided they don’t want to sit on the boards that were offered up, although maybe the blue chip offers failed to materialise.
Michael Hawker is actually quite a talented CEO and a nice guy to boot, so he shouldn’t be shunned from big boards just because things didn’t work out at IAG.