Major bank head in the running to win world's best CEO award

by Julia Corderoy05 Dec 2014
Outgoing Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly has been announced as a finalist for the 2014 Morningstar chief executive of the year award. If she takes out the title, she will become the first Australian and the first woman to win the award.

In revealing the nomination, Morningstar said "we think her leadership of the Australia-based bank over the last six and a half years places Westpac in a strong position for continued success".

Kelly, who was the first female CEO of a major Australian bank, was appointed as CEO of Westpac just as the Global Financial Crisis was unfolding – where she was able to lead the bank through the turbulent times to emerge as a stronger company. 

During her tenure, the value of the company has more than doubled, with market capitalisation increasing from just under $50 billion to around $104 billion. The bank has also grown to become the country's second biggest following the acquisition of St George, where she was formerly CEO.

Kelly is up against Greg Henslee, the chief executive of US auto-parts stores O'Reilly Automotive and John Martin, the CEO of American biotechnology company and market darling Gilead Sciences. The award will be announced in January.