The Australian Agricultural Company is appointing former Westpac banker turned AACo chief commercial officer, Hugh Killen, as its new managing director and chief executive officer, from February 1.
Until June Mr Killen was global head of Westpac Banking Corporation’s fixed income, currency and commodities business, then was recruited to a newly-created role at AACo.
Also appointed to the big beef business in recent months was another financial sector high flier, former UBS co-head of equity capital markets, Dane FitzGibbon, who became AACo's strategy and growth boss.
Mr Killen was 16 years with Westpac in a career which included working as country head of the Americas, in New York, and led the Sydney institutional foreign exchange desk.
He comes from a family with strong connections to the grazing industry in Central West NSW and the Northern Territory cattle sector.
His financial sector career began with Elders Finance in Sydney.
The new CEO, replaces outgoing Jason Strong, who announced his departure in August.
Mr Killen will be earning a $600,000 a year total fixed salary, including superannuation, plus cash bonuses and deferred equity rights worth up to $450,000 a year.
We have been particularly impressed by Hugh’s commercial skills and the speed with which he has got across our business, its strategy and future path
AACo chairman, Don McGauchie, said the company had run an international and domestic executive search process to find a replacement for Mr Strong, but after “interacting directly with Hugh in recent months” directors were in no doubt the right person for the job was already working for the business.
“Clearly an experienced managing director, we have been particularly impressed by Hugh’s commercial skills and the speed with which he has got across our business, its strategy and future path,” Mr McGauchie said.
“He was the best executive we engaged through our search process and we’re confident in his ability to drive company strategy to achieve the best commercial outcome for AACo.”
He noted Mr Killen’s pastoral background and his formative years involved with agriculture.
Mr McGauchie said his transition from the finance industry back to agriculture promised to be “seamless”.
Mr Killen said it was an honour to be appointed to the top job.
“I have always had enormous interest in and respect for the company,” he said.
“Being able to combine my commercial skills with my passion for the business is a terrific opportunity and challenge.”
As a senior executive with Westpac Mr Killen had exposure to driving business model and cultural transformation and leading significant technology programs as well as moving business models into digital-enabled businesses.
In the US, as Westpac’s North American boss during the global financial crisis, he built on his already extensive skills and networks, representing the Australian banking industry and on numerous committees.
A former student of Sydney’s The Kings School at Parramatta in the 1980s, and a Harvard Business School graduate, Mr Killen is married to Andrea with two children, Will and Tess.