Last week, National Australia Bank (NAB) announced the departure of its fourth chief executive officer this millennium, with Andrew Thorburn set to leave the bank following the damming assessment of NAB leadership in the Banking Royal Commission’s final report. As speculation builds on who is next in line for the top job, and what qualities they will need to make real changes, Industry Moves takes a look at the CEOs that have come before.
NAB's CEOs - 1999 - 2019
Andrew Thorburn: 2014 - 2019
Andrew Thorburn joined NAB in 2005 as head of retail banking in Australia, and in October 2008 became managing director and CEO of Bank of New Zealand, a role he held for nearly six years before succeeding Cameron Clyne in the top job in 2014. Born in Melbourne, with dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship, Thorburn began his career as an economist at Marac Holdings in Auckland and prior to joining NAB, held senior management positions as a regional manager at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) owned ASB Bank, CBA and St George Bank.
In a radio interview with Melbourne’s 3AW radio station, he said of his departure:
"I am acknowledging we have made mistakes and that is not good enough and I have said when we have made them, we haven’t addressed them fast enough. We have just been too slow to do that. That is poor culture, poor practice."
In the News:
National Australia Bank's Andrew Thorburn gets to grip with his to do list
- Financial Review, 11 June 2017
NAB suprises market by naming Andrew Thorburn as next CEO
- Sydney Morning Herald, 3 April 2014
Cameron Clyne: 2009 - 2014
At 40-years of age, Cameron Clyne was said to be the youngest CEO ever at NAB when he was named the successor to John Stewart in 2008. A former state-level rugby player who represented Victoria in the early 90s, he was raised in Penrith in Sydney's western suburbs, and spent the early part of his career at PwC, specialising in financial services. He became a partner of the firm at age 28 and was managing partner of consulting for financial services in the Asia-Pacfic region. He joined NAB in 2004, and was appointed CEO of Bank of New Zealand in 2007 before taking over as Group CEO from John Stewart a year later. In 2014, he was given the option of staying on for another three years but chose to retire from the position in order to spend more time with his young family.
In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald in 2012, during his tenure, Clyne said:
"My view is when you write the real obituary - this will be a better and stronger organisation on just about every measure. I don't know whether it will be bigger or smaller. It will be what it will be. Just as long as we can say it's better."
In the News:
John Stewart: 2004 - 2008
Edinburgh-born banker, John Stewart, was the first non-Australian to lead NAB when he moved from London to Melbourne to take up the top job in February 2004 after the sudden departure of former head Frank Cicutto. Prior to that, in 2003, he was appointed managing director of National Australia Group Europe and became a member of the board. Stewart previously held the position of deputy chief executive of Barclays PLC, and chief executive of Woolwich before it was bought by Barclays in 2000. He departed NAB in 2008 after credit market losses triggered the bank’s worst share price slump in 21 years.
In an interview with The Observer Business a short time after taking over from Cicutto, Stewart said:
"When you have lost your chief executive and chairman and a few members of the board and the management team, it's fair to say you are at a strategic inflection point. We are in a situation where all bets are off. There's no sacred cows. We can actually run the company we wish we had".
Frank Cicutto: 1999 - 2004
Frank Cicutto, who was born in Northern Italy before moving to Sydney with his parents in 1952, joined the National Australia Bank in 1967 as a 17-year-old. He rose up through the ranks to be appointed chief general manager in 1995, and then in 1998 became chief operating officer and a board member, before succeeding Don Argus as CEO in June 1999. After 37 years of service, including over four years as CEO, Cicutto resigned in 2004 after a foreign-currency options trading scandal.
In a statement to the Sydney Stock Exchange on his resgnation Cicutto said: