AWI board supports quartet

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen

Seven wool industry figures are jostling for three spots expected to open up on the Australian Wool Innovation board, with two existing directors being recommended for the roles.

Two fresh faces were among the four candidates recommended on Tuesday by the independent Board Nomination Committee as having the “optimal skills and experience to serve” on the AWI Board.

It is likely three positions will become available after current board members James Morgan and Noel Henderson confirmed they were not seeking re-election and Colette Garnsey announced she would retire in March.

In a report handed down by BNC chair and acclaimed businesswoman Samantha Hogg, the BNC’s non-binding recommendations for directors with a “diverse composition of experience and outlook” were named.

Among them were existing AWI directors Jock Laurie and Don Macdonald.

“Government relations, deep knowledge of AWI operations, a pro-active approach to stakeholder issues and strong leadership skills” were listed as Mr Laurie’s key skills in the report.

As for Mr Macdonald, the report stated he had “extensive stakeholder engagement (and) sound understanding of fibre advocacy issues”.

Two new candidates also made the BNC’s pick, including South Australia-based Michell Wool chief executive Steven Read and Melbourne-based David Jones general manager of marketing communications Georgia Hack.

Ms Hack’s “extensive marketing and brand experience, and broad global contacts in the retail and fashion spheres” were mentioned as key attributes.

Mr Read’s “diverse agri-business career, long experience in all aspects of wool processing (and) market development experience in a broad range of countries covering Europe, Middle East, subcontinent, Americas, Far East and China” were listed as his key skills in the report.

The three who did not make the BNC’s recommendation list — which shareholders are not obliged to follow — were NSW-based TA Field Estates managing director Michael Field, Queensland woolgrower Charles Olsson, and South Australian woolgrower Sydney Lawrie.

Shareholders will be able to vote for any of the seven director candidates, and those with the most votes from shareholders — in person and by proxy — will be elected at AWI’s annual general meeting next month.

In her report, Ms Hogg said the BNC was confident the nominees recommended — individually and collectively — would provide the appropriate and necessary balance of skills required by the AWI board.

Joining Ms Hogg on the BNC were independent members Simon Cameron — a fourth-generation woolgrower from Tasmania — and Michael Thomas, as well as Mr Morgan and Mr Henderson.

While the AWI board has accepted the report, it has not recommended that shareholders support the four candidates, rather just three, as the board can only recommend a number of director candidates equal to the number of vacancies.

The board has resolved that open proxies directed to the chair will be voted in favour of three candidates, Mr Laurie and Mr Mcdonald — who recused themselves from the discussion — and Ms Hack.

Shareholders are not obliged to follow either the BNC or AWI Board’s recommendations.

AWI’s AGM will be held online at 10am Eastern States time on Friday, November 19. More information can be found online.

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