Gail Kelly

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This article is about the Australian bank executive. For the American anthropologist, see Gail M. Kelly.
Gail Kelly
Born (1956-04-25) 25 April 1956 (age 60)
Pretoria, South Africa
Residence Sydney, Australia
Net worth A$43.3 million[1]
Spouse(s) Allan Kelly
Children Sharon, Sean, Mark and Anne Kelly

Gail Kelly (née: Currer) (born 25 April 1956) is a South African-born Australian businesswoman. She is the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Westpac, stepping down from the role on 1 February 2015. She was replaced by Brian Hartzer, previously Westpac's financial services chief executive.[2] In 2002, she became the first female CEO of a major Australian bank or top 15 company and, as of 2005, was the highest paid woman in an Australian corporation. She assumed the position of CEO at Westpac in 2008.[3] As of 2014, she is listed as the 56th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[4]


Early life and education[edit]

Gail Currer was born in Pretoria, South Africa. Currer attended the University of Cape Town[5] where she undertook an arts degree majoring in history and Latin as well as a Diploma in Education. She married Allan Kelly in December 1977.[3][6]


The couple moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where she taught Latin at Falcon College while he served in the Rhodesian army. They returned to South Africa where Allan Kelly studied medicine at the University of the Witswatersrand and Gail Kelly taught at a government high school.[3]


Kelly started work at the Nedcor Bank in 1980 as a teller but was fast-tracked into an accelerated training program.[6] She started an MBA in 1986 while pregnant with her oldest daughter and graduated with distinction in 1987.[3] In 1990, she became head of human resources at Nedcor (after having given birth to triplets five months earlier). From early 1992 to 1997 she held various other general manager positions at Nedcor, including cards and personal banking.

The Kellys were becoming disillusioned with South Africa in the middle of the 1990s and were looking to move to a different country. In June 1997, she flew to Sydney where she held interviews with four of the major banks and was appointed to a senior position at the Commonwealth Bank in July 1997.[3][6]

Career in Australia[edit]

Kelly started work as the General Manager of Strategic Marketing in the Commonwealth Bank in October 1997. By 2002, she was head of the Customer Service Division responsible for running the Commonwealth Bank's extensive branch network.[6]

Her performance at the Commonwealth Bank led her to be recruited as CEO of St. George Bank (after the death of the incumbent CEO from a heart attack). She commenced in January 2002 – at the time, St. George was seen as a possible takeover target (especially after the purchase of Colonial State Bank by the Commonwealth Bank) but Kelly increased the bank's profitability and achieved much higher levels on return on assets.[3] In November 2004, St. George Bank gave Kelly a pay rise and extended her contract indefinitely with the capitalisation of the bank having risen by $3 billion since the start of her term as CEO. The Australian Banking & Finance magazine gave her an award for Best Financial Services Executive in 2003 and 2004.[3]

Due to her success at St George, there was extensive media speculation in June 2005 that she would return to the Commonwealth Bank as CEO on the retirement of David Murray AO, but Kelly said that she was committed to remaining with St. George. Murray was replaced by Ralph Norris, the former CEO and managing director of Air New Zealand.[6]

On Friday 17 August 2007, she announced her resignation as CEO of St. George Bank to take up the same position in Westpac from 2008.[7] She started work as Westpac CEO on 1 February 2008.[6]

A Westpac takeover of St. George Bank was announced on 12 May 2008. The takeover was approved by the Federal Court of Australia and finalised on 26 May 2008.[8]

In October 2010, Kelly announced a target to have women occupy 40% of the top 4000 managerial positions at Westpac, a task reported by The Australian newspaper to have been almost achieved by March 2012.[9]

On 13 November 2014, Gail announced that she would retire as CEO of the Westpac Group on 1 February 2015. Brian Hartzer, the head of Westpac's Australian financial services group, was appointed as her replacement.[2]


In 2011, Forbes ranked her the 32nd most powerful woman in the world, she was ranked 8th in 2010 [5] she was ranked 18th in 2009;[10] and ranked 11th in 2008.[11] As of 2014, she is listed as the 56th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[4] Internationally, Gail sits on the Global Board of Advisers at the US Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of the Group of Thirty. According to the latest rankings of Fortune list of powerful Asia-Pacific women Australian banking major Westpac’s chief Gail Kelly has topped in the list.


  1. ^ "Rich Bosses: Rupert Murdoch tops list as ASX rally boosts executive wealth". 3 April 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Westpac chief Gail Kelly steps down, to be replaced by Brian Hartzer". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "CEO who gave birth to triplets". The Age. 3 July 2005. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "The 100 Most Powerful Women: #8 Gail Kelly". Forbes. 6 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Westpac Media Release August 2007". Westpac. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Kelly resigns from St.George". 
  8. ^ "St George and WBC sign merger deal,". 26 May 2008. Retrieved May 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ "Westpac chief Gail Kelly's new kind of women's liberation". The Australian. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "The 100 Most Powerful Women: #18 Gail Kelly". Forbes. 19 August 2009. 
  11. ^ "Kelly overtakes Oprah". 

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