Gail Kelly (née: Currer) (born 25 April 1956) is a South African-born Australian businesswoman. She is the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Westpac, stepping down from the role on 1 February 2015. She was replaced by Brian Hartzer, previously Westpac's financial services chief executive.[1] In 2002, she became the first female CEO of a major Australian bank or top 15 company and, as of 2005, was the highest paid woman in an Australian corporation. She assumed the position of CEO at Westpac in 2008.[2] In 2010 Kelly was named 8th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes[3] and as of 2014, she is listed in 56th place.[4]


Early life and education

Gail Currer was born in Pretoria, South Africa. Currer attended the University of Cape Town[5] where she undertook an arts degree majoring in history and Latin as well as a Diploma in Education. She married Allan Kelly in December 1977.[2][6]


The couple moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where she taught Latin at Falcon College while he served in the Rhodesian army. They returned to South Africa where Allan Kelly studied medicine at the University of the Witswatersrand and Gail Kelly taught at a government high school.[2]


Kelly started work at the Nedcor Bank in 1980 as a teller but was fast-tracked into an accelerated training program.[6] She started an MBA in 1986 while pregnant with her oldest daughter and graduated with distinction in 1987.[2] In 1990, she became head of human resources at Nedcor (after having given birth to triplets five months earlier). From early 1992 to 1997 she held various other general manager positions at Nedcor, including cards and personal banking.

The Kellys were becoming disillusioned with South Africa in the middle of the 1990s and were looking to move to a different country. In June 1997, she flew to Sydney where she held interviews with four of the major banks and was appointed to a senior position at the Commonwealth Bank in July 1997.[2][6]

Career in Australia

Kelly started work as the General Manager of Strategic Marketing in the Commonwealth Bank in October 1997. By 2002, she was head of the Customer Service Division responsible for running the Commonwealth Bank's extensive branch network.[6]

Her performance at the Commonwealth Bank led her to be recruited as CEO of St. George Bank (after the death of the incumbent CEO from a heart attack). She commenced in January 2002 – at the time, St. George was seen as a possible takeover target (especially after the purchase of Colonial State Bank by the Commonwealth Bank) but Kelly increased the bank's profitability and achieved much higher levels on return on assets.[2] In November 2004, St. George Bank gave Kelly a pay rise and extended her contract indefinitely with the capitalisation of the bank having risen by $3 billion since the start of her term as CEO. The Australian Banking & Finance magazine gave her an award for Best Financial Services Executive in 2003 and 2004.[2]

Due to her success at St George, there was extensive media speculation in June 2005 that she would return to the Commonwealth Bank as CEO on the retirement of David Murray AO, but Kelly said that she was committed to remaining with St. George. Murray was replaced by Ralph Norris, the former CEO and managing director of Air New Zealand.[6]

On Friday 17 August 2007, she announced her resignation as CEO of St. George Bank to take up the same position in Westpac from 2008.[7] She started work as Westpac CEO on 1 February 2008.[6]

On 12 May 2008 Kelly announced an $18.6 billion merger between Westpac and St. George Bank.[8] The merger was approved by the Federal Court of Australia and finalised on 26 May 2008.[9] The merger resulted in the new combined Westpac Group having 10 million customers, a 25% share of the Australian home loans market and with $108 billion investment funds under its administration.[8]

In October 2010, Kelly announced a target to have women occupy 40% of the top 4000 managerial positions at Westpac, a task reported by The Australian newspaper to have been almost achieved by March 2012.[10]

On 13 November 2014, Gail announced that she would retire as CEO of the Westpac Group on 1 February 2015. Brian Hartzer, the head of Westpac's Australian financial services group, was appointed as her replacement.[1]

On 1 August 2017, Gail released her first book, Live Lead Learn: My Stories of Life and Leadership (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House). The book details Gail's experiences of being a high-profile businesswoman and a mother of four.[11]


Forbes - Most Powerful Women in the World

Year Ranking Related article
2014 56 https://www.forbes.com/profile/gail-kelly/
2013 62 https://www.forbes.com/profile/gail-kelly/
2012 60 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2192340/Forbes-Most-Powerful-Women-List-2012-Michelle-Obama-ranks-SEVENTH.html
2011 32
2010 8 https://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/11/power-women_2010.html
2009 18 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/gail-kelly-in-forbes-list-of-worlds-10-most-powerful-women/story-e6frg8zx-1225935338055
2008 11 https://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/11/biz_powerwomen08_The-100-Most-Powerful-Women_Rank.html

Fortune - Various

Year Title Ranking Related article
2014 The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders 49
2014 Most Powerful Women of Asia-Pacific 1 http://fortune.com/2014/09/18/most-powerful-women-asia-pacific/
2014 50 Most Powerful Women – Global Edition 10
2013 50 Most Powerful Women in Business: The Global 50 3 http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/most-powerful-women/2013/global/
2012 50 Most Powerful Women in Business – Global List 2 http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/most-powerful-women/2012/global/
2011 International Power 50 2
2010 50 Most Powerful Women – International Power 50 2
2009 50 Most Powerful Women in Business – Global List 2 http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/mostpowerfulwomen/2009/global/index.html
2008 50 Most Powerful Women in Business – Global List 2 http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/mostpowerfulwomen/2008/global/index.html
2007 50 Most Powerful Women: The Global Power 50 28 http://archive.fortune.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0709/gallery.women_intl.fortune/28.html

Financial Times

Year Title Ranking
2011 The Top 50 Women in World Business 12
2010 The Top 50 Women in World Business 17

The Australian Financial Review/Boss Magazine

Year Title Ranking
2010 True Leaders: Staying Power No rank
2008 AFR Magazine List: Sectoral Power: Financial Services 2
2007 AFR Boss True Leaders – Hall of Fame Top 25
2005 AFR Boss True Leaders No rank
2004 AFR Magazine List: Sectoral Power: Financial Services No rank
2003 AFR Boss True Leaders List No rank

Other Australian Newspapers

Year Title Ranking
Feb 2015 The Australian’s Deal Magazine – 50 Most Powerful Women in Australian Business 40
March 2013 The Australian Newspaper – List of the 50 Most Influential People in Politics 46
2011 The Sydney Morning Herald – 50 Women of Influence n/a
2003 Daily Telegraph – Sydney’s Most Powerful Operators n/a

Other Publications

Year Title Ranking Related article
2014 Morningstar – CEO of the Year Joint runner-up http://corporate.morningstar.com/au/asp/subject.aspx?xmlfile=5689.xml&filter=PR5306
2014 Australian Womens Online – Power List 4 http://australianwomenonline.com/julie-bishop-tops-list-of-the-50-most-powerful-women-in-australia/
2013 Crikey – Power 50 Index 20 http://www.womensagenda.com.au/talking-about/top-stories/item/3102-the-eight-most-powerful-women-in-australia
2011 Insto Magazine – Banker of the Year 1
2010 Australian Women’s Weekly – 6 Women of Influence No rank
2007 Bulletin Magazine – 50 Most Influential in Business 9
2007 Australian Women’s Weekly – List of the 10 Most Powerful Women No rank
2005 Australian Banking & Finance Magazine – Best Financial Services Executive 1
2004 Bulletin Magazine – Smartest People List ‘Heads up the business category…’ with Chip Goodyear.
2004 Australian Banking & Finance Magazine – Best Financial Services Executive 1
2003 Australian Banking & Finance Magazine – Best Financial Services Executive 1
2002 Business Review Weekly – Top 20 Most Powerful Women in Australian Business 4


  1. ^ a b "Westpac chief Gail Kelly steps down, to be replaced by Brian Hartzer". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "CEO who gave birth to triplets". The Age. 3 July 2005. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "The 100 Most Powerful Women: #8 Gail Kelly". Forbes. 6 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Westpac Media Release August 2007". Westpac. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Kelly resigns from St.George". Archived from the original on 3 September 2007. 
  8. ^ a b "St George, Westpac agree on merger terms". ABC News. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "St George and WBC sign merger deal, NEWS.com.au". 26 May 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Westpac chief Gail Kelly's new kind of women's liberation". The Australian. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Be bold, have a go, Gail Kelly urges women". SBS World News. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 

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