Goyder always in Woodside frame
As is often the case with successions, AFL chairman Richard Goyder’s surprise elevation to the helm of Woodside Petroleum was a while in the making.
Michael Chaney, chairman of both Woodside and more recently Wesfarmers, and Goyder’s predecessor as chief executive at the latter, says Goyder figured early in Woodside’s planning when its search started for suitable successors.
Chaney stayed in touch “over some time”, as the Woodside board tested Goyder against a pool of other potential candidates in Australia before making its choice.
The wish to keep the chairmanship in Australia, to enable closer and more immediate contact between chairman and chief executive, was key to their deliberations, ruling out another highly-regarded potential replacement, current director and former Shell Australia chief Ann Pickard, who lives in the US. Chaney says “we were all of the same view that Richard was the stand-out candidate”.
The timing also worked out relatively well, with Goyder’s deliberations around his 12-year tenure at Wesfarmers culminating in last week’s announcement — overseen by Chaney — that he would step down from the group in November, to be replaced by industrials boss Rob Scott.
It will mean, however, that Chaney will stay on a little longer at Woodside than he envisaged, into 2018, with Goyder transitioning into the chairman’s role between August, when he joins the board as a non-executive director, and next April’s annual meeting. There has already been some sniping about the perceived cosiness of the latest appointment given Goyder and Chaney’s shared history at Wesfarmers.
Inevitably, the appointment has been twinned with the decision of the Chaney-led Wesfarmers board to go with Scott, a company insider and another West Australian, to replace Goyder.