Australia Post appoints Christine Holgate as chief executive

Writer: Dana Mccauley
Published Date: June 27, 2017

AUSTRALIA Post has appointed Christine Holgate as its new chief executive, the first woman to hold the role in the national carrier’s 208-year history.

Ms Holgate, who has run Blackmores for the past nine years, will be on a significantly lower salary than outgoing chief Ahmed Fahour, who resigned in February after his $5.6 million pay packet was revealed by a Senate committee.

Ms Holgate will be paid a more modest base salary of $1.4 million, with a potential $1.4 million bonus that would double her earnings to $2.8 million— which means that, like Mr Fahour, she will be Australia’s highest paid public servant.

Her salary at Blackmores is $900,000 plus $900,000 in short-term bonuses, plus a potential $1.8 million long-term bonuses — a total potential income of $3.6 million.

She will go from leading 1000 employees to 80,000 when she takes the reins at Auspost in October.

“Pay has never been the driver for me wanting to do a job,” Ms Holgate said at a press conference in Sydney on Tuesday, revealing that her only request to Auspost Chairman John Stanhope was to “pay me what you think is fair”.

And, she added, “if you asked a postie on $50,000 a year, he would probably think it’s a fair wage”.

“I think it is a large wage, but if you compare it to the average CEO running a similarly sized company, it is good value,” Ms Holgate said.

She said she was honoured to serve as Auspost’s first female chief executive, saying the national carrier served a vital public function and that she hoped to inspire other women to “step up and have a leadership position, too.”

Mr Fahour, who may receive a three-year bonus of up to $6 million this year — plus his $2 million salary and short-term bonuses — has maintained that he did not resign because of the salary revelations.

Auspost said Ms Holgate’s package was in line with “the parameters set by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal”.

Chairman John Stanhope said Australia Post had undertaken a thorough global search before choosing Ms Holgate to lead the business through the next stage of its transformation.

“Christine has a demonstrated track record of delivering results in large, complex organisations, both here in Australia and internationally,” Mr Stanhope said.

“The board was impressed by her experience of working very successfully in a range of different industries that are highly regulated. And, on top of that, she has a proven ability to implement strategy — and successfully grow a business in Asia.

“Her knowledge of global eCommerce will be invaluable as we pursue our Asian Strategy, which is all about offering logistics support to Australian businesses that are either selling in Asia, or sourcing their products there.

Ms Holgate said she felt privileged to be appointed to run the national carrier.

“I feel fortunate to be joining at a time when we can really strengthen Post’s leading position in the eCommerce market — both here, in Australia, and in Asia,” Ms Holgate said.

“I’m a passionate advocate for Australian business seizing the opportunity that’s on our doorstep in Asia and that creates opportunities for everyone — our workforce, our shareholder, the community, as well as businesses across Australia.

Auspost group chief customer officer Christine Corbett to lead the business through the chief executive transition period after Mr Fahour’s July 28 departure.

Blackmores shares took a hit on the news of Ms Holgate’s departure, which the company marked “with regret”.

The outgoing chief executive led the natural healthcare company through a period of huge growth and expansion into China that helped to briefly lift its shares on the ASX above $220.

“Christine’s legacy is a program of transformation which has enabled our group to adapt to some significant market changes in recent years,” Marcus Blackmore, who has been on sabbatical from his role as chairman, said.

“She has strengthened our strategy and management team, so we are exceptionally well positioned for the future.”

Ms Holgate said she had “great confidence in Blackmores’ future”, and that she had a vested interest due to her significant shareholding in the company.

Stephen Chapman, who has filled in for Mr Blackmore as chairman, will now stay on in the role after the appointment of Ms Holgate’s permanent replacement. Mr Blackmore will serve as interim chief executive.

— With AAP

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