Paul Graham is the new CEO of Australia Post. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Paul Graham is the new CEO of Australia Post. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

AusPost appoints Holgate’s successor as CEO

Australia Post has appointed Woolworths executive Paul Graham as its new chief executive and managing director - a day before former boss Christine Holgate is set to appear at a Senate inquiry into her controversial departure.

The appointment of Mr Graham comes after Ms Holgate has garnered support to be reinstated from licensed post office owners, which are similar to franchises; the postal workers union; former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; and John Hewson, who led the Liberal Party in its 1993 election loss against Paul Keating.

Mr Graham will be paid fixed total remuneration of $1.46m, with the potential to double that amount in bonuses, in accordance with the parameters set by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal. This compares with Ms Holgate's total remuneration last year of $1.61m, which included $38,273 in long-service leave and $138,565 in "other long-term benefits".

A Senate committee is probing Ms Holgate's claims that Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo bullied and humiliated her, and stood her down unlawfully after attracting criticism from Scott Morrison for rewarding Cartier watches - worth a total of almost $20,000 - to four senior executives who secured a banking deal worth $66m a year.

Mr Bartolomeo has rejected these claims and said Australia Post undertook a "thorough global search" before appointing Mr Graham to "lead the business through the next phase of its transformation program".

A Senate inquiry is examining Christine Holgate’s departure from Australia Post. Picture: Gary Ramage
A Senate inquiry is examining Christine Holgate’s departure from Australia Post. Picture: Gary Ramage

The search, which executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder completed on Australia Post's behalf - is estimated to have cost about $500,000, according to recruitment insiders.

"On behalf of the board I am so pleased to announce Paul as the next CEO of Australia Post - an outstanding candidate with strong logistics, digital and retail experience both here and overseas, including as a senior executive at Deutsche Post DHL," Mr Di Bartolomeo said.

"Paul has a demonstrated track record of delivering results in large, complex organisations and is a proven leader managing large teams.

"The board was impressed by Paul's 40 years of deep industry experience working in supply chain in Australia, Europe and Asia. We are also confident Paul's community and customer philosophy is also a perfect fit for Australia Post."

Mr Graham - whose latest role has been Woolworths chief supply chain officer - said he was proud to be appointed as chief executive "of such an iconic Australian brand". He will start in September.

"Australia Post has proven itself to be one of the most resilient and successful postal businesses anywhere in the world," Mr Graham said. "I feel fortunate to be joining at a time when we can truly capitalise on the extraordinary growth in eCommerce experienced in the past year and continue developing our retail and digital offerings while keeping letter deliveries strong.

"I am most looking forward to meeting the team across the country - the posties, Post Office workers, mail processors and delivery drivers that kept our country operating during COVID-19. I am also looking forward to getting out into regional Australia where Australia Post has an enormous presence, as well as meeting with the thousands of Post Office licensee partners who play a critical role every day serving the country.

"I have been so privileged to run Woolworths' supply chain for the past five years and it has shown me how important it is to keep our customers at the centre of everything we do - without our customers we don't have a business."

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said Mr Graham had "played a pivotal leadership role as we've set about building Australia's next generation supply chain".

"Most importantly, Paul has supported the transformation of our supply chain culture to one that puts customers and team first in everything we do," Mr Banducci said.

"His advocacy has been instrumental in improving mental health support for our team, as well as the wider supply chain industry in his role as chairman of the Healthy Heads in Sheds and Trucks Foundation. Paul has also been a vocal supporter of diversity and inclusion in his role as an ally with the Woolworths PROUD initiative.

"We look forward to working in partnership with Paul in his new role on the many touch points our group has with Australia Post."

Mr Graham was appointed over internal Australia Post candidates, including chief financial officer Rodney Boys, executive general manager community and customer Nicole Sheffield, and executive general manager business and government Gary Starr.

Several external candidates were also in the mix, but withdrew from the process, including former Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah and Linfox Armaguard chief executive and former Australia Post international boss Annette Carey. Former SBS managing director Michael Ebeid was also understood to be in the running.

Australia Post confirmed that Mr Boys will continue to lead the business through the CEO transition period until Mr Graham commences in September.

Originally published as AusPost appoints Holgate's successor as CEO

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