AWI BNC picks David Jones executive for board seat

Terry Sim, October 12, 2021

David Jones marketing and communications general manager Georgia Hack. Image – LinkedIn.

AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation’s board nomination committee has recommended David Jones executive Georgia Hack as its number one pick for election to the board this year.

AWI today named the BNC’s four preferred director candidates it believes have “the optimal skills and experience to serve on the board” – new candidates DJ marketing and communication general manager Georgia Hack and Michell chief executive officer Steven Read, and re-standing directors, chair Jock Laurie and Don Macdonald.

However, the BNC’s report on the AWI website said it believes Georgia Hack “would add most to the skills base of the AWI board and move towards addressing the area of need identified in the board’s annual review.”

“The three others have individual, but equally valued strengths from which the board would benefit,” the BNC said.

“Whilst all of the other 3 candidates had diverse skills and experience relevant to the wool industry, none of them were regarded as being as suitable as the recommended candidates.”

The other three candidates in the election are New South Wales wool grower and former MerinoLink chair Michael Field, South Australian grower Sydney Lawrie, and NSW grower and Australian Wool Growers Association director Chick Olsson.

No AWI board recommendation on candidates

The AWI board has resolved to accept the report of the BNC and has not given a recommendation to shareholders to support the four candidates put forward by the BNC, because the board can only recommend a number of director candidates equal to the number of vacancies. In this case, that is likely to be three vacancies, AWI said.

However, the board has resolved that open proxies directed to the chair will be voted in favour of three candidates – Georgia Hack, Jock Laurie and Don Macdonald. Both existing directors recused themselves from these discussions, AWI said.

Shareholders are not obliged to follow either the BNC recommendations or the AWI board decision on voting for director candidates, AWI said.

AWI today said the BNC’s non-binding recommendations were made after the BNC concluded its report on 1 October to confirm the eligibility of candidates for the board director positions to be decided at AWI’s Annual General Meeting on 19 November.

There will be three director positions to be decided on at the AGM, assuming a resolution to limit the board to seven directors is passed. If the resolution is not passed, there will be six vacancies to be filled at the AGM, according to the notice of meeting.

The BNC said it was confident the nominees recommended, individually and collectively, would provide the appropriate and necessary balance of skills required by the AWI board. The BNC also considered the nominations would deliver to the board a diverse composition of experience and outlook to enable the company to fulfil its responsibilities to shareholders and stakeholders.

Following interviews, the independent BNC recommended the following four candidates for shareholders’ consideration listed in alphabetical order.

  • New candidate Georgia Hack. The BNC report listed her key skills as: “senior marketing leader with extensive marketing and brand experience, and broad global contacts in the retail and fashion spheres.”
  • Current AWI director and chair Jock Laurie. The BNC report found his key skills were: “government relations; deep knowledge of AWI operations; a pro-active approach to stakeholder issues; strong leadership skills.”
  • Current AWI director Don Macdonald. The BNC report found his key skills were: “extensive stakeholder engagement; sound understanding of fibre advocacy issues.”
  • New candidate Steven Read. The BNC report found his key skills were: “diverse agri-business career; long experience in all aspects of wool processing; market development experience in a broad range of countries covering Europe, Middle East, the sub-continent, Americas, Far East and China.”

AWI shareholders will be entitled to vote for any of the seven director candidates who are standing for election to the board at the AGM.

The three candidates with the most votes from shareholders, in person and by proxy, will be elected to the likely three vacant positions.

The BNC’s membership is:

  • Samantha Hogg, independent chair, appointed by the BNC following an executive search.
  • Noel Henderson, current AWI director not up for re-election
  • Mr James Morgan, current AWI director not up for re-election
  • Simon Cameron, independent member nominated by the Woolgrower Industry Consultation Panel.
  • Michael Thomas, independent member from an international executive search firm (Heidrick and Struggles).

Ms Hogg said the BNC is satisfied the recommended persons are suitably qualified for appointment based on their expertise in one or more of the key skills identified.

The BNC said it is confident that each of them if elected, will bring to the board of AWI a high-level of skills, experience and commercial pragmatism.

“The BNC believes that they would best ensure that the board collectively has an appropriate balance of skills and experience in the areas determined by the committee in accordance with the BNC charter.”

The BNC’s recommendations will be provided with the Notice of Meeting, which will be sent to AWI shareholders from October 12 ahead of the company’s AGM.

As part of AWI’s democratic process, all shareholders will have the opportunity to vote at the company’s AGM – either in person or by proxy – on who they want to represent them on their company’s board. This democratic process provides all AWI shareholders the right to have their say.

About AWI’s 2021 AGM

AWI will hold its 2021 Annual General Meeting at 10 am (AEDT) on Friday 19 November 2021. It will be conducted online. More details related to the election of Directors are available from AWI’s website at

Ms Hack was unavailable for an interview today.


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  1. Peter Small, October 13, 2021

    I have long argued that marketing and promotion is best done by the owner of the product, certainly not by a statutory authority. And I challenge the chairman of AWI Jock Laurie to argue the case of market failure in respect to these two areas.
    Mr Laurie, can you explain why your board seeks board membership of people with a preponderance of skills in marketing and promotion when the real need of our industry is in research and development?
    It is a proven fact that productivity increases in any industry is driven by investment in research, and productivity increases is what the the wool industry desperately needs today. Promotion is best left to others.
    May I respectively suggest that extension, education and training programs are not research. Education and training anywhere else in the Australian economy are paid for either by the state, the employer or the individual. Education is certainly not paid for by a statutory tax on others in the industry.
    It is investment in research Mr Laurie that our industry requires, if it is to remain relevant. Research is neglected and I am surprised that this failure has escaped the eye of the Minister of Agriculture David Littleproud, as I always thought that the Commonwealth contribution was tied to the research effort not promotion. This may undoubtedly lead to questions in the future around any potential misappropriation of government funds, which hopefully doesn’t become an embarrassment to the Minister.

    • Jim Gordon, October 16, 2021

      AWI, for God’s sake, listen to Peter Small. He talks such sense. We need research in the right areas. How are all the good cattle being bred with the right genetics? AWI, put your money and energy into encouraging wool growers to use the right genetics to breed trouble-free Merinos; to stop farmers drifting out of the Merino industry.
      AWI, encourage wool growers to produce what the market wants. Ask the trade, they will tell you and then pass that information onto the wool growers. Work with all wool growers, not just one section of the industry.
      At the moment, a 1 percent levy is the only way to pull AWI up and make them look at their wasted expenditure. While levy payers keep throwing 1.5 or 2 or even 2.5 percent at AWI, nothing will change, and sadly you are dragging me with you.

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