Helen Nugent

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Helen Marion Nugent AO (born 13 February 1949) is an Australian businesswoman, company director and former academic.

In 2004, Nugent was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia, "for service to the performing arts, to business and the financial services industry, particularly in the area of corporate governance, and to the community."[1]

Education and early career[edit]

Nugent completed a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours and a PhD at the University of Queensland (UQ), and earned a Master of Business Administration with Distinction from the Harvard Business School.[2]

She taught history at UQ from 1971 to 1980, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business degree in 2009.[2] Nugent was a Professor of Management and Director of the MBA Program at the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales from 1992 to 1994.

She commenced her business career at McKinsey & Company where she became a partner, specialising in financial services and the resources sector. Subsequently, as Director of Strategy at Westpac Banking Corporation, reporting to the CEO, Bob Joss, she was a member of the Executive team responsible for a major turnaround in the financial performance of the organisation.

Company director[edit]

Nugent is currently an independent company director. She serves as a Non-Executive Director of Origin Energy and as Chairman of Veda Group and Australian Rail Track Corporation.

In the financial services sector, she is a former Chairman of Funds SA (the $26 billion investment fund of the South Australian Government) and Swiss Re (Australia), as well as having been a Non-Executive Director of the Macquarie Group from 1999 to 2014, Mercantile Mutual and the State Bank of New South Wales. She has been a director of other companies, including United Energy and Carter Holt Harvey in the resources sector, as well as law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and previously Freehills (for nine years) and Australia Post.[2]

Nugent has been involved in the governance of several Australian universities and schools. In 2009, she was appointed Chancellor of Bond University[3] and also served as President of Cranbrook School, a private boys school in Sydney. Previously, she served a five year term from 1987 to 1992 on the Council of Monash University.[2] She was a member of the panel that reviewed Australian higher education for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations in 2008.[4]

In addition, she has served on the boards of several arts organisations, including as Deputy Chairman of Opera Australia and as Chairman of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia.[2] In 1999, she was Chairman of the Major Performing Arts Inquiry, often known as the Nugent Inquiry. More recently, she has chaired the National Opera Review.


  1. ^ It's An Honour (2010). Helen Marion Nugent. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e University of Queensland (2010). Citation – Dr Helen Nugent AO. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  3. ^ Healy, Guy (10 March 2009). "Helen Nugent named chancellor at Bond". The Australian. The Australian. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Review of Higher Education - Expert Panel". 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Trevor Rowe
Chancellor of Bond University