.
Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

News

  • Written by Claire Wright, Research Fellow, Centre for Workforce Futures, Macquarie University

Alan Joyce is Australia’s highest-paid chief executive.

Alan Joyce is one of the Financial Review’s ten most covertly powerful people.

Alan Joyce writes heartwarming notes to children.

Alan Joyce is getting married.

And he is apparently some sort of superhero.

Something about chief executives brings forth testimonials like this, published in the News Corporation tabloids last month, which followed the revelation that Joyce was Australia’s highest paid corporate chief (taking home A$24 million in 2018-19).

Penned by Angela Mollard, a journalist specialising in celebrities, it said he had

turned around a failing company, put thousands of dollars in shareholders’ pockets, boosted the superannuation of Mr and Mrs Average and prevented thousands from losing their jobs.

Joyce, and all the best chief executives, she argued, were

alchemists, strategists, innovators and geniuses. They have the sort of agile brains that produce solutions to problems which seem intractable. They lead not from a textbook but from an internal well of brilliance that seems constantly replenished.

Further, executives like Joyce deserved to be rewarded for

the risks they take, the entrepreneurship they exhibit, the education they’ve invested in and the particular brand of brilliance that comes along all too rarely.

It’s been said before

I’ve been examining the language used to describe Australia’s elite executives over the past 100 years, and what’s being said about Joyce is familiar - right down to the use of the word “genius”.

This kind of talk, repeated for more than a century now, leads us astray if we keep repeating it. It creates misunderstandings about how large companies work. Chief executives aren’t superhuman, their characteristics are not those of their companies, they don’t single-handedly determine the fate of those companies or personally employ their workers, they aren’t necessarily selfless or patriotic, and they don’t necessarily have the best interests of the nation at heart.

Read more: CEOs who take a political stand are seen as a bonus by job applicants

Sir Charles Mackellar, chairman of the Mutual Life & Citizens’ Assurance Company and a director of a host of other companies including the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was labelled a “genius” when he died in 1914.

FA Govett, the London-based head of Australia’s Zinc Corporation was labelled as a “man of exceptional ability” in 1926.

Often they had higher ideals.

Sir William Lennon Raws, a director of four of Australia’s biggest companies including BHP and Elder Smith, was a “well-meaning capitalist with a dream”.

Like Joyce and his contemporaries that work their “butts off to do the right thing”, Raws was

palpably rich and could be richer; but I doubt if the making of another million would be as much to him as the achievement of one of his cherished hopes.

It’s their own work

Painting Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce as a superhero is part of a long Australian tradition Daily Telegraph, May 6, 1926 Executives have long been seen as the sole reason for their company’s success. In 2019, Joyce single-handedly “took a beleaguered company and transformed it”. Similarly, in the late 1800s, BHP director William Jamieson was solely responsible for the development of the Broken Hill region. Robert Philp of Burns Philp and Company was an Australian patriot who “controlled her destinies during a critical period”. Industrialist and car manufacturer Edward Holden worked tirelessly to “benefit the state and the company”. Corporate director and university chancellor Sir Normand Maclaurin was “endowed with talents of a very high order […] having at heart the welfare of the nation”. They’re exceptional Joyce’s success might be due to his “big dick energy”, but he wasn’t the first. In the early 1900s, Joseph Pratt – director of the National Bank of Australasia, the Land Mortgage Bank, the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company and Metropolitan Gas Company – was described in the most masculine of terms as a big man tall, erect, well-made and muscular. He has a pleasant, manly face, indicative of straightforwardness and goodness of disposition, and upon which grows a russet beard, containing a few grey hairs… Sir Mark Sheldon - chairman of the Waterloo Glass Bottle Works, a director of the Australian Bank of Commerce, and vice president of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce - also also big , big in his outlook, his ideas, and his accomplishments. Perhaps his height (6 feet, 1.5 inches) enables him to look a bit farther ahead than the ordinary man Painting corporate chiefs like this gives corporations a human face. It helps convince customers and investors that their money is in safe hands. If Alan Joyce is a ‘good man’, then the Qantas Group is seen as a good company. Read more: Swollen executive pay packets reveal the limits of corporate activism It also makes executives untouchable. After all, if they are blessed with unique or exceptional abilities, and if their company is doing well (whatever the reason), it is hard to argue with the millions being spent on them. Even if it’s $24 million, even if it’s more.

Authors: Claire Wright, Research Fellow, Centre for Workforce Futures, Macquarie University

Read more http://theconversation.com/painting-qantas-chief-executive-alan-joyce-as-a-superhero-is-part-of-a-long-australian-tradition-124167


The Conversation

Politics

Stepping up trade and cultural ties in the Pacific

Recognising the strong cultural and economic significance that kava has for Pacific communities, including those living in Australia, the Australian Government is stepping up its commitment to the P...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister - Statement on northeastern Syria

The Australian Government is deeply troubled by Turkey’s unilateral military operation into northeastern Syria.   Actions of this nature will have grave consequences for regional security and co...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

David Littleproud Interview with Fran Kelly ABC Insiders

FRAN KELLY: David Littleproud, welcome to Insiders. DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Thanks for having me, Fran. FRAN KELLY: You heard Joel Fitzgibbon there - "Just do something." What and where is the governme...

David Littleproud MP - avatar David Littleproud MP

Business News

How to select the most popular conference venues

Planning a conference isn’t always an easy task, but trying to find the most popular conference venues, can be even more difficult. There are so many different venues available that you can spend to...

Sara Joel - avatar Sara Joel

Advice for Designers when Branding Promotional Products

Over the last 20 years our Fresh Promotions has delivered more than 80,000 custom branded product orders for clients, totalling many millions of items. Every one has included a customised logo or me...

Bill McGrath - avatar Bill McGrath

Setting Up a Global Business in the 21st Century

In the modern era, there has never been a more globalized economy than what exists today. Nations from all across the world do business with one another, and private companies trade their goods and ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

How to spend your 3 days in Hanoi (Vietnam)

The discovery of Hanoi is a must for all travelers! Soak up its overflowing atmosphere, the bustle of its streets, its succulent cuisine and warm Vietnamese smiles. If you want to visit Hanoi in 3...

News Company - avatar News Company

A First-Timer’s Guide to Whistler

Whistler ranks among the best skiing region in the world. Located in British Columbia in Canada, the resort attracts thousands of skiers and holidaymakers each year. Families bring their children fo...

Anees Saddique - avatar Anees Saddique

Top travel tips for Central and South America

Preparing for your trip to Latin America With tropical beaches to icy glaciers, ancient ruins to natural wonderlands, thick rainforest to wild Patagonian plains, a holiday to Latin American is th...

Digital 360 - avatar Digital 360

ShowPo