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Westpac Banking Corp CEO Gail Kelly announces retirement: Here’s what you need to know

Today, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) announced Gail Kelly will retire from her role as CEO (effective 1 February 2015) and be replaced by internal executive Brian Hartzer.

Westpac Chairman Lindsay Maxsted thanked Mrs Kelly for her contribution to the group and highlighted her work on the acquisition of St.George as well as the significant improvements in customer service.

“Gail is one of Australia’s most successful CEOs. She was appointed as the Global Financial Crisis was unfolding and her leadership and dedication has seen Westpac emerge a stronger and better company,” Mr Maxstead said.

Since Mrs Kelly took the reins in 2008, Westpac’s profit has jumped from around $3.8 billion to over $7.6 billion and it has significantly grown its dividend payouts. In addition Westpac’s market capitalisation has more than doubled.

However the South African born teacher has provided more than just good financial results, partly evident through her push for growth of women in senior executive roles, mature aged workers and those who work part-time. Mrs Kelly featured at number 56 in Forbes’ The Most Powerful Women in the World for 2014.

In an announcement to the ASX she said: “It has been a great honour for me to be the CEO of this wonderful company… As our results show, the Westpac Group is very well positioned with strong momentum and a high quality team. This is an excellent time to hand the reins to our next CEO, who will take the Group through to our bicentennial celebrations and beyond.”

And the next Westpac Group CEO will be Mr Hartzer, who’s held a number of prominent leadership roles in banks throughout the world. Currently the CEO of Westpac’s Australian Financial Services division, Mr Hartzer has been managing the Westpac Retail & Business Banking, St.George Banking Group and BT Financial Group businesses.

Prior to joining Westpac he held senior roles at Royal Bank of Scotland and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ). He described the opportunity as, “a great privilege”.

He acknowledged his predecessor and said: “I intend to strengthen that leadership by making Westpac one of the world’s great service businesses, pushing the boundaries in digital transformation, and delivering strong results so that we are the best performing bank in the region.”

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