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Jennifer Westacott to step down as Business Council chief

The head of Australia’s most powerful business lobby group, Jennifer Westacott, will step down from her role as Business Council of Australia chief executive as the hunt begins for her replacement.

Westacott has been the face of the lobby group representing the interests of corporate Australia since 2011. She said it was time to implement succession plans, The Australian Financial Review reported.

“The Business Council’s role fighting for the policies that keep Australia strong with a vibrant and successful business sector has never been more important,” Westacott said in a statement. “After 12 years leading the BCA I’ve begun working with Tim and the board to plan for the future.

“Safeguarding our critical role means working to get leadership and succession plans in place and getting the secretariat structure right to ensure the organisation continues to have an outsized impact on the national debate.”

BCA president Tim Reed said the organisation’s board was working with Westacott to find her replacement and had engaged a recruitment firm.

“We are very fortunate to have such a capable leader who delivers this for members and our community with high energy and high impact, but both Jennifer and the board agree that we need to be ready for change, and therefore we’ve initiated a formal process,” he said.

In her time as chief executive, Westacott has pushed for a stronger economy through wages growth, boosted productivity and more highly skilled migrant workers. She voiced concerns about multi-employer bargaining laws late last year and during the pandemic pushed for lockdowns to be phased out after vaccination targets were met.

Ahead of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Jobs Summit, Westacott urged against “cyncism” and derision of the summit as a “talkfest”.

“Engaging respectfully and honestly is the gateway to understanding different points of view and positions. Talking can deliver solutions and it can achieve consensus. Cynicism, on the other hand, fuels inaction.”

Before joining the Council, Westacott spent several years in the public sector, including as director of housing at the Victorian state government, secretary of Victoria’s education and training department, and Commonwealth Grants Commissioner. She was a board director for KPMG Australia for six years, and was appointed chancellor of Western Sydney University at the beginning of this year.

Taken from Media Release on 9 February 2023.

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