Virgin Australia names Elizabeth Bryan as new chairman

Elizabeth Bryan succeeds Neil Chatfield as new Chairman

Virgin Australia has selected Caltex Australia chairman and Westpac director Elizabeth Bryan as the successor to long-serving chairman Neil Chatfield. ​Australia’s second-largest airline has been searching for a new chairman since Mr Chatfield declared his intention in October to relinquish the reins after seven years in the role.

Elizabeth Bryan is no stranger to managing the interests of large corporate shareholders. The respected Caltex chairman has helped oversee the transformation of the refiner while juggling the interests of that company’s powerful US shareholder, Chevron.

This makes her a logical candidate to manage the competing interests of Virgin Australia’s large airline stakeholders. Virgin announced on Tuesday that Bryan would succeed long-time chairman Neil Chatfield, who announced his retirement last year.

Virgin is a smaller company than Caltex but her job will not necessarily be any easier. Bryan will need to manage the big personalities on the board, which includes three airline chief executives and a former deputy prime minister. Chatfield has already put in place protocols aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest between the competing airlines. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has a 10 per cent stake in Australia’s No. 2 airline.

The Virgin appointment will put the focus back on rival Qantas now that the airline’s financial performance has stabilised. Leigh Clifford has been Qantas chairman since 2007.

This is how Virgin Australia summarises her career in its announcement to the ASX:

Ms Bryan brings extensive leadership, strategic and financial expertise to the Board. She has over 32 years of experience in the financial services industry, government policy and administration, and on the boards of companies and statutory organisations.

In addition to her role as Chairman of Caltex Australia, Ms Bryan is also currently a Director of Westpac Banking Corporation and Insurance Australia Group. Ms Bryan has held a range of different board roles including Chairmanship of UniSuper Limited, as well as directorships of Ridley Corporation Limited and Australia Pacific Airports Corporation. 

Ms Bryan’s business experience includes roles as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Deutsche Asset Management Australia, General Manager, Investments at the State Super Investment and Management Corporation and various executive roles at the Australian Industry Development Corporation.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International