The Australian Agricultural Company board has ended its five month executive search for a new Managing Director CEO by today appointing Hugh Killen as its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, to take effect from February 1.
Mr Killen replaced Jason Strong who resigned from the position after a three and a half year tenure in August.
Mr Killen was appointed as AA Co’s Brisbane-based chief commerical officer in July. Before that he had a long career in banking and foreign exchange, having served most recently as the Head of Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities for Westpac Banking Corporation.
Mr Killen is a Harvard business school graduate, and has a rural backrgound as a member of the Killen clan which had connections tracing back to the old Scottish Australian grazing company and grazing assets around Nyngan in NSW and the Northern Territory in the 1960s-80s. His relation, the late Bryce Killen, owned Willeroo and Scott Creek in the NT, and was an investor in the Northern Meat Exporters beef processing plant at Katherine. Bryce Killen also owned Helicopter Utilities, whose distinctive yellow Bell 47 helicopters arguably pioneered the use of helicopter mustering in the north in the 1960s.
Announcing Mr Killen’s appointment today, AA Co chairman Donald McGauchie said: “Having run an international and domestic executive search process and having had the benefit of interacting directly with Hugh in recent months, we have no doubt that we have the right person to be our Chief Executive Officer.
“Clearly an experienced managing director, we have been particularly impressed by Hugh’s commercial skills and the speed with which he has got across our business, its strategy and future path. He was the best executive that we engaged through our search process and we’re confident in his ability to drive company strategy to achieve the best commercial outcome for AA Co. His background as a pastoralist and having spent his formative years in the agricultural sector has made his transition from the finance industry seamless.”
Mr Killen said: “It is an honour to be appointed the Chief Executive Officer of AA Co. I have always had enormous interest in and respect for the Company; being able to combine my commercial skills with my passion for the business is a terrific opportunity and challenge.”
An AA Co statement today said that for the past 15 years, Mr Killen has been running large, complex and globally dispersed businesses. Most recently he has been leading Westpac’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities business being directly accountable for designing and executing strategy, significant P&L responsibility and managing teams in six countries.
“As a senior executive he has had exposure to driving business model and cultural transformation and leading significant technology programs moving business models into highly efficient digital enabled businesses. As Head of Westpac Banking Corporation’s North American business during the GFC, Hugh built on his already extensive skills and networks. He has represented the Australian banking industry and Westpac on numerous Committees and Boards with extensive experience interfacing with Commercial Advisory Boards, Boards and Committees,” the AA Co statement said.
“Hugh has lived and worked in Sydney, London and New York, is an alumnus of The King’s School, Sydney Australia and Harvard Business School, Cambridge MA. He is married to Andrea and has two children.”
Since Mr Strong’s sudden and unexpected resignation in August, an Interim Operating Committee has supported the existing AA Co leadership team and assisted in the the executive search process, comprising chairman Donald McGauchie, Audit and Risk Management Committee chair Stuart Black and Staff Remuneration Committee chair Tom Keene.
AA Co said the Interim Operating Committee will be disbanded upon commencement of the CEO’s appointment on 1 February 2018.
- AA Co shares rose 6c to $1.35, after today’s announcement was made.