Australia Post has announced that former Woolworths Group chief supply chain officer, Paul Graham, will take up the CEO position.
The news, announced yesterday, comes as former CEO Christine Holgate faces a senate inquiry today, into the gifting of four Cartier watches to Australia Post executives in 2018, valued at approximately $5,000 each.
Holgate has fiercely denied that there was any wrongdoing in the gifting of the watches and that it met all legal requirements.
"In short, I was treated like a criminal by my own Chairman, but I had committed no crime," Holgate wrote in her submission to the inquiry.
"To be clear, the purchase of the four watches as a reward for the efforts of executives who delivered the pivotal Bank@Post deal was legal, within Australia Post’s policies, within my own signing authority limits, approved by the previous Chairman, expensed appropriately, signed off by auditors and the CFO, widely celebrated within the organisation, and presented at a morning tea by the previous Chairman and me with a thank you card signed by both of us.
"It was then found to be legal by the “review” which was clearly intended to find it otherwise.
"Yet somehow, I was forced out of my job over it," she said.
After CBA, NAB and Westpac signed onto the Bank@Post service, Australia Post had the ability to "undertake a technology upgrade to the post offices, underpin a new agreement with the Licensed Post Offices, provide marketing and training support and finance increasing cash services," Holgate said in her submission.
Investments in the Australia Post network proves a boon for the fashion sector, which makes up 25.9% of the eCommerce market - 33.3% when fashion purchases from Variety Stores are included.*
Meanwhile, industry figureheads have come out in support of Holgate, including former Catch CEO Nati Harpaz and My Deal chairperson and NORA Network founder Paul Greenberg.
"Christine Holgate is an inspiring leader and one of my favourite," Harpaz posted to LinkedIn.
"Christine was an amazing support to me and Catch and came through when we needed her the most and I will forever be grateful.
"She always lead with a level of integrity and humbleness that leaves an ever lasting impression.
"I believe Christine and think that Australia Post has lost a great leader," he said.
Greenberg echoed Harpaz's comments.
"I know there is a lot of commentary on this. My view is this: I know Christine Holgate. I like Christine Holgate. I believe Christine Holgate.
"Also, I know this: Christine Holgate is a champion of online retail in Australia, via her role at Australia Post and prior, Blackmores. A global ecommerce pioneer," he said.
Meanwhile, newly-appointed CEO Graham will commence his role in September while Rodney Boys continues to lead the business through the CEO transition period.
Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo welcomed Graham to the team.
"On behalf of the board I am so pleased to announce Paul as the next CEO of Australia Post – an outstanding candidate with strong logistics, digital and retail experience both here and overseas, including as a senior executive at Deutsche Post DHL.
"Paul has a demonstrated track-record of delivering results in large, complex organisations and is a proven leader managing large teams.
"The Board was impressed by Paul’s 40 years’ of deep industry experience working in supply chain in Australia, Europe and Asia.
"We are also confident Paul’s community and customer philosophy is a perfect fit for Australia Post," he said.
Speaking on his appointment, Graham added that he will bring his customer-centric attitude from Woolworths into the Australia Post business.
"Australia Post has proven itself to be one of the most resilient and successful postal businesses anywhere in the world.
"I feel fortunate to be joining at a time when we can truly capitalise on the extraordinary growth in eCommerce experienced in the past year and continue developing our retail and digital offerings while keeping letter deliveries strong.
"I have been so privileged to run Woolworths’s supply chain for the past five years and it has shown me how important it is to keep our customers at the centre of everything we do – without our customers we don’t have a business," he said.
Australia Post undertook a global search, before deciding to appoint Graham.
Graham's remuneration has been set at $1,456,560 per year.
In relation to the senate inquiry, Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo has released a statement countering claims made by Holgate. This is available to read on the Australia Post newsroom website.
*Australia Post - Inside Australian Online Shopping - eCommerce Industry Report 2021