30 November 2009

Award of Doctor of Business honoris causa
Dr Helen Nugent AO


Dr Helen Nugent AO is an eminent banker, company director, business woman and academic, as well as being actively involved in the community.

She is currently a non-executive director of Macquarie Group and Macquarie Bank Limited, Origin Energy and Freehills. She is Chair of Macquarie’s Remuneration Committee and Chairman of Origin Energy’s Audit Committee. She is also Chairman of Funds SA and Swiss Re (Life and Health) Australia Limited.

Dr Nugent was involved in the financial services sector as Director of Strategy at Westpac Banking Corporation from 1994–1999, where she was part of the executive team responsible for a $2.8 billion turnaround in the Bank’s performance. She has also been a non-executive director of the State Bank of New South Wales (1993–1994) and Mercantile Mutual, now ING (1992–1994).

Previously, as a company director she was a non-executive director of UNiTAB from 1999–2006; Australia Post from 2001–2004; and Carter Holt Harvey from 2003–2006. She has also been Chair of Sydney Airport, Macquarie Airports and Hudson Australia. Prior to becoming a company director, she was a partner with McKinsey & Company, where she specialised in the financial services and mining sectors.

She maintains a keen interest in academic affairs. In 2008, she was a member of the Federal Government’s Higher Education Review, commonly known as the Bradley Review. From 1992–1994, she was Professor in Management and Director of the MBA Programme at the Australian Graduate School of Management, serving subsequently on the Advisory Council of the AGSM and the Australian Business School at the University of New South Wales. From 1987–1992, she was a Member of Council of Monash University. She started her involvement in academic life from 1971–1980 as a tutor and senior tutor in the then History Department of The University of Queensland. Currently, she is Chancellor of Bond University and a member of Council of Cranbrook School in Sydney, where she has served for the past 16 years.

A devotee of the arts, she has been Deputy Chair of the Australia Council, Chair of the Major Performing Arts Board, and Deputy Chair of Opera Australia. In 1999, she chaired the landmark Ministerial Inquiry into the Major Performing Arts, commonly known as the Nugent Inquiry. She is currently a director of the National Portrait Gallery.

She has been actively involved in foreign affairs. Currently, she is a member of the Australia–Korea Foundation. From 2001–2004, she was a member of the Australia–Japan Foundation and from 2001–2006 was on the Council for a Multicultural Australia. In 1997, she was a member of a group advising the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on the White Paper on Foreign Policy and Trade and was involved in the Defence Efficiency Review in 1998.

An inspiration to younger people, especially women, seeking to ascend the corporate ladder, she is a member of Chief Executive Women and has been actively involved in mentoring a large number of women.

Dr Nugent was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services to Australian society in business and the arts, and in 2004 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the performing arts, business and the financial services industry, particularly in the area of corporate governance.

Chancellor, in recognition of her distinguished career, I present to you Dr Helen Nugent, Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) and Doctorate of Philosophy, both from The University of Queensland; and MBA (Distinction) from the Harvard Business School, for the award of Doctor of Business honoris causa bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.