Qantas chairman, Leigh Clifford set to step down in October. After 11 years with the Flying Kangaroo!

Qantas Group News
Date Posted: 01/07/2018

The current chairman of Australia’s national airline carrier is set to step down from the top position of the Qantas board in October 2018. Leigh Clifford has served eleven years with Qantas and has been an integral part of the airlines board for over a century.

Mr. Clifford became the chairman of Qantas back in 2007, prior to Alan Joyce being named as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the airline. There’s no doubting that Mr. Clifford has lead the board through some of the most transformative periods in the airlines 98 year history. From the ups and downs like the grounding of the Qantas fleet as a result of Mr. Joyce, in which Mr. Clifford was a strong believer that it was the right thing to do. To record levels of profitability, employee engagement, exceptional customer satisfaction levels and now the arrival of Qantas’ next generation Dreamliner’s into the fleet. You’re better off leaving the board when it is at its best not when it’s struggling, with Mr. Clifford saying “The national carrier has never been in a stronger position”.

After announcing his retirement as chairman, Mr. Clifford said “It has been an absolute privilege to lead the Qantas Board for these past 11 years. The national carrier has never been in a stronger position and that’s a credit to the management team and the 30,000 employees that make up the Qantas Group family.”

Current board member, Richard Goyder, will assume the role of chairman following the Annual General Meeting on the 26 October 2018.

“Richard is one of the most experienced business leaders in Australia and an excellent choice to lead the Qantas Board into the future.” added Mr. Clifford.

Richard Goyder first joined the Qantas Board in 2017 after serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Westfarmers Limited for thirteen years, departing Westframers on the brink of the UK Bunnings implosion, costing those other shareholders a combined total of $1.7 Billion. He will also be the chairman of Woodside Petroleum Limited and the Australian Football League while he steps into the top position at Qantas. Goyder also holds the chairman position of charities such as the WA Symphony Orchestra, diabetes research group GDRF Australia and Telethon. There is no limit on how many companies one person can take on, but it all comes down to common sense. It’s hard to even imagine how someone can be in the top spot on multiple boards and still give each one of them 100%…… just seems near to impossible to me.

Mr Goyder said “Qantas is an iconic Australian company and one of the best performing airline groups in the world. I’m honoured to be named its Chairman and look forward to working with my Board colleagues to help it take advantage of the opportunities ahead.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Clifford was annoyed by the speculation of Goyder being lined up for his job in November last year at the 10th anniversary of Clifford as chairman. He told a business lunch in Melbourne that he isn’t going anywhere and neither is Alan.

So what’s going to happen with Alan Joyce, will he retain the CEO position?

In November 2018 it will mark ten years that Mr. Joyce has held the top position of Qantas, how long will Joyce hold his current position for, now there is a new chairperson in charge of the board. “Leigh has been a stellar chairman for Qantas and I’m looking forward to working with Richard in the years ahead” said Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO. Joyce had made it clear that he has the best intention to stick around for the Flying Kangaroo’s centenary celebrations at the end of 2020.

Alan Joyce told the Sydney Morning Herald that he will miss Mr Clifford who backed his decision to ground the whole Qantas feet in 2011 and proudly supports his strong vocal stance on gay marriage.

However, Goyder will have to make the decision as chairman who the next Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the airline will be when it comes to replacing Mr. Joyce. Let’s hope he makes a better decision than he did with the Bunnings UK CEO.

Goyder now joins the elite ranks of men and women who can move between the boards of huge companies and hold multiple positions, but I don’t think he will need the $670,000 a year that Qantas pays their chairman, not to mention the additional lounge benefits and complimentary long haul and short haul flights all paid for by Qantas.

Retiring chairman Leigh Clifford, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Richard Goyder the future chairman, I’m sure will all be able to catch-up in the aptly named Chairman’s Lounge for many years to come.

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