Westpac’s Gail Kelly steps down: 7 top quotes from the first female Big Four CEO

By Mary Ward ·

Westpac CEO Gail Kelly has announced she is stepping down, following seven years with the bank. She will be replaced by Westpac's Australian financial services chief executive Brian Hartzer from February 1, 2015.

Kelly was announced as the new CEO of Westpac in late 2007. When she took up her appointment in early 2008, she was the first female CEO of one of Australia’s Big Four banks.

The Chairman of Westpac Banking Corporation, Lindsay Maxsted, spoke in support of Kelly’s work with the bank. "Gail is one of Australia's most successful CEOs,” he said.

“She was appointed as the Global Financial Crisis was unfolding and her leadership and dedication has seen Westpac emerge a stronger and better company.

“During her tenure the value of the company has more than doubled, with market capitalisation increasing from just under $50 billion to around $104 billion.”

Kelly is yet to announce any future plans.

Here are seven of Kelly’s most memorable quotes from her seven years at Westpac:

2007: Talking work/life balance on Lateline Business

“If I’m watching my son play soccer, that’s what I’m doing. If I’m going to a school concert, that’s what I’m doing. I turn the phone off. I actively tune into whatever I’m doing.”

2010: Advocating positivity at a Chamber of Commerce business breakfast

“You must stand as guard at the door of your own mind and choose to be positive.”

2011: On women as an untapped resource in the developing world as CARE Australia’s women’s empowerment ambassador

“More than 875 million women and girls are illiterate, more than 60 percent of the world’s 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty are women and girls – these are things we must change.”

2011: Explaining the need for women’s leadership programs at the UN Women in the Workplace Gender Equality Summit

“Without active leadership, ownership, taking charge, setting up the measure of the program, holding people to account, [gender equality] doesn’t actually happen.”

2012: Telling women that they need to love their work at the Ruby Connection Launch

“If you don’t love what you do, change it. You owe it to yourself to love your work.”

2014: Endorsing generosity as a management strategy in the Financial Review

“If you believe in practising generosity of spirit, at heart you believe in the power of an individual to make a difference and at heart you treat individuals with deep respect and want to see others flourish.”

2014:  Reminding women to back themselves in the Financial Review

“In my experience, women like to be really 100% ready before they put their hand up for opportunities. My advice and my encouragement to you, over life journeys and career journeys is put your hand up and be bold and be courageous. Be prepared to back yourself, be prepared to have a go.”