Wesfarmers Managing Director Richard Goyder says he’s not looking forward to walking out the door of the private company after more than 12 years at the helm but says he’s leaving the leadership in safe hands.
Goyder, who is only months away from stepping down in November, has been transitioning Deputy CEO Rob Scott into the role with Deputy Chief Financial Officer Anthony Gianotti appointed in July.
“I’m not looking forward to leaving Wesfarmers, and it will be a little bit more difficult because it will be the shareholder’s AGM, and AGMs are always a good time to catch up with longstanding shareholders, many of them friends of my parents and family who have been Wesfarmers shareholders since the co-operative days,” he says.
“If you can love a company, I love Wesfarmers, particularly the people. It will be difficult, but friendships will remain and continue and I am looking forward to that.”
The retail, hardware and industrial juggernaut, which employs more than 220,000 people and has a shareholder base of more than 500,000, reported a 22.1 per cent increase in net profit after tax to $2.87 billion last month.
Goyder says the number one challenge when he took over as Managing Director and CEO in July 2005 was attracting and retaining great people.
“I continue to think that is the big challenge. There is nothing we do that our competitors can’t do,” he says.
“It’s the quality of our people that make the difference. That’s why I am so thrilled that Rob Scott is taking over from me, I think Rob and Anthony Gianotti and the team that Rob will bring with him is going to be really good for Wesfarmers.
“So the people challenge is always the big challenge. And then ensuring that we don’t lose our small company way of doing things – and that is to move quickly, take appropriate risks, but be focussed on creating value for our shareholders and all our other stakeholders.”
Goyder says he still feels relatively young and still capable of making a contribution to business in other ways.
“And I love business so I am looking forward to being engaged in other businesses and hopefully making a contribution to the broader economic welfare of the country and of those businesses,” he says.
“I am a passionate Australian. I think we have got great opportunities. I have been blessed to have had the opportunities I have had at Wesfarmers and some of the opportunities within Wesfarmers has given me. And so I’m hoping to make a contribution.
“I recent visited my godfather, who is a shareholder in Wesfarmers, Stuart James, who is 97 and he is still playing golf twice a week. He drives to his farm and he plays billiards and cards.
“He’s an inspiration to me – there’s a lot to go I think.”
►The outgoing managing director will be speaking at a CCI Lighthouse Leadership series event on September 12. Book your tickets to hear from Richard Goyder here.