27/07/2017 - 12:53

Seamless transition the goal

27/07/2017 - 12:53

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A lengthy leadership transition provided Richard Goyder with the ideal preparation for his role as Wesfarmers’ boss in 2005, the outgoing managing director told today’s Business News Success & Leadership breakfast.

Seamless transition the goal
Mr Goyder is hand passing the leadership of Wesfarmers over an extended time frame. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A lengthy leadership transition provided Richard Goyder with the ideal preparation for his role as Wesfarmers’ boss in 2005, the outgoing managing director told today’s Business News Success & Leadership breakfast. (Watch the full video of the Success & Leadership breakfast here: https://youtu.be/WSGsbbq3YLM )

And he’s currently passing the value of that 15-month leadership transition to his successor, Rob Scott, over a similar time frame before heading out the door later this year.

Mr Scott, who heads Wesfarmers’ industrials division, was announced as the conglomerate’s next leader in February of this year, but won’t step into the role until November.

Mr Goyder said a seamless transition was very important for Wesfarmers.

“He’s (Mr Scott) got this great time where he’s not the decision maker, although I’m engaging him in every decision we make, he’s not under the microscope, and he can talk to people inside the company, outside the company and start building towards when he takes over,” Mr Goyder told the Success & Leadership event.

“When I took over from (former managing director) Michael Chaney, we had 15 months.

“People told me that was crazy, but actually it was the best preparation to take over as chief executive.

“I think he’ll (Mr Scott) be as prepared as you can, be but it’s still a bit of a sticker shock.

“It’s really important that the company doesn’t lose momentum in this time.”

As former Bunnings chief executive John Gillam and finance director Terry Bowen had both moved on, it was the right time to change leadership, Mr Goyder said.

Mr Goyder was optimistic about the company’s major recent move, expanding Bunnings into the UK through the acquisition of Homebase, with work undertaken to bring store managers and others from the new business to Australia to understand how it operates.

“Bunnings has been a chief executive’s dream, (and) I think Bunnings has got a long way to go yet,” Mr Goyder said.

Even Brexit didn’t dampen his enthusiasm.

“The home improvement sector is pretty resilient,” he said.

“When people stop travel, discretionary spending, they go to Bunnings and they buy home improvement stuff so they can spend their weekend at home doing things.”

Kicking on

After leaving the top job at Western Australia’s biggest listed company, Mr Goyder is taking on several new roles.

In February, he was announced as Mr Chaney’s successor in another role – that of chairman of energy producer Woodside Petroleum, and he was selected as chairman of the Australian Football League, too.

One of his moves at the AFL will be to reduce the number of board meetings from around 12 annually to eight, in a bid to free up time for the management team.

More broadly, he backed managing director Gillon McLachlan’s vision for the game, and he hoped that the sport could be entrenched as the most popular across Australia.

Part of that was ensuring the success of the women’s competition.

“The AFL is in a special place because of our place in the community,” Mr Goyder said.

“Particularly in country areas, but also in suburban areas, football clubs are one of the glues that are holding the community together.

“It’s incredibly important that football thrives, and that’ll happen if we’re inclusive, if men, women, boys and girls all want to be involved.”

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