Ten Most Powerful CEOs

By Bizclik Editor


Be sure to check out this story in the September issue of Business Review Australia. Trust us, it's way cooler! 


Name: Marius Kloppers

Company: BHP Billiton

South African-born Marius Kloppers has grown mining giant BHP Billiton’s revenues from $39 billion to over $50 billion since being appointed to CEO in 2006. The main man at BHP has extensive knowledge of the mining industry, enabling him to oversee the global company’s production of iron ore, copper, coal and beyond. Now, according to Forbes, the 49-year-old Kloppers took home $11 million in 2010, and is one of Fortune 500 Magazine’s Top 25 Most Powerful People in Business.


Name: Ian Narev

Company: Commonwealth Bank

He’s the mostly freshly minted CEO on the list, just coming onboard as CBA’s CEO in July after predecessor Ralph Norris stepped down. Narev has been with CBA since 2007 and has been Group Executive, Business and Private Banking since 2009.  Commenting on his appointment, Ian Narev said, “I am really looking forward to taking over Australia’s leading bank at a time of rapid change in the local and global economies, continuing the focus on transforming the Group to become Australia’s finest financial services organisation and continuing to move that aspiration selectively into Asia.”


Name: Gail Kelly

Company: Westpac

As the CEO of Westpac, 55-year-old Gaily Kelly has banked $551 billion assets and $15.9 billion in revenue. In its 2010 profile on Kelly, Forbes said, “Kelly’s every statement and opinion—public or otherwise—is reported minutely, occasionally provoking national controversy. Since late 2009 Kelly has earned the ire of everyday Australians by drastically raising interest rates on loans.”


Name: Clive Palmer

Company: Resourcehouse, et al

Known for his generosity and business savvy, Queensland billionaire Clive Palmer made headlines this year for a $3 billion IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for his mining company, Resourcehouse. Palmer is also a Director of 28 other companies and a pro at securing lucrative transactions. As the founder and chairman of Mineralogy, he’s overseen transactions with the Chinese Government-owned CITIC Pacific Limited, Australasian Resources and Fortescue Metals. It is widely believed that Palmer’s net worth is around A$5 billion.


Name: Mike Smith

Company: ANZ

Michael Smith has been CEO of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) since October 2007, coming from his post as CEO of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Smith attracted some controversy earlier this year for saying that competition between the major banks was incredibly fierce. “I actually think that the general population and business in Australia get an absolutely amazing deal in terms of the choice they have,” he said. “People talk about agreements between the four big banks, (but) we couldn’t agree what day of the week it is.”


Name: David Stewart

Company: Leighton

Appointed CEO in 2011 after legendary predecessor Wal King stepped down, Stewart is the former COO with responsibility for Leighton International, Habtoor Leighton Group, John Holland and Leighton Properties. “David brings a comprehensive knowledge of the business, a wealth of contracting experience and a disciplined ‘can do’ attitude that is central to Leighton’s culture,” David Mortimer, the company’s chairman.


Name: Steven Lowy, Peter Lowy

Company: Westfield

Brothers Steven and Peter Lowy recently stepped into the role as CEOs of shopping mall developer and owner Westfield, after their father and Westfield founder Frank stepped down from the post. The move to shift Peter and Steven Lowy’s current position of co-managing directors follows the company’s creation of a new listed property trust that jointly invests in Westfield’s Australian and New Zealand shopping centers. It comes as the company seeks further developments for its U.S. and U.K. operations.


Name: Neville Power

Company: Fortescue Metals

Neville Power only recently took over the reins of $6.4 billion iron ore producer,  Fortescue Metals, just after founder Andrew Forrest stepped down. Power said the company was confident it would be able to meet its expansion target of 155 million tonnes a year by June 2013, one year earlier than planned. He also told The Australian that he wants to build the iron ore miner into “one of the world’s great companies.” “Fortescue has a tremendous culture and the people are absolutely passionate and driven to achieve it,” Power said.


Name: Grant O’Brien

Company: Woolworths

Grant O’Brien has been Deputy CEO of retail giant Woolworths since April 2011, coming from his position as COO of Australian Food & Petrol at Woolworths. He’s been with Woolworths for 24 years, and has played a key role in the development of its liquor business and expansion into the hardware sector. Regarding his CEO appointment, O’Brien told The Australian, “It is a very competitive market, but it’s been that way for a long time, and there’s no doubt that in the supermarket sector at least there’s a new level of competition—Coles are doing a good job, but Woolworths’ supermarkets continue to gain market share … and my desire is to ensure that continues to grow.” His salary with Woolworths is $1.6 million.


Name: David Thodey

Company: Telstra


David Thodey has been CEO of Australia’s largest telco since 2009, after holding a number of senior executive positions in marketing and sales for Telstra and IBM Australia/New Zealand. According to one-time colleague Peter Kazacos, “The biggest thing he did — and I don’t think it's been matched by any previous or subsequent IBM MD — was that he was always approachable and was very passionate about business partners. He has got a good way of getting things resolved.” Thodey’s salary with Telstra is $2.7 million.

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