Carlton joins Collingwood and Essendon with consultant chairs

04 May 2021 3 min. read
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Former PwC Australia CEO Luke Sayers has been appointed president of the Carlton FC from next year – continuing a notable trend of accountants and consultants heading AFL club boards.

Aussie Rules Football and consulting aren’t two subjects commonly associated, but soon the boards of the AFL’s three traditional Victorian powerhouses will be headed by bean-counters and consultants, with former PwC CEO Luke Sayers set to take over as Carlton’s president from next year. He joins recently elevated Collingwood president Mark Korda, one half of KordaMentha and a long-time Arthur Andersen member, and former PwC global chair Paul Brasher at Essendon.

Sayers spent close to thirty years at PwC, including two terms as Australia CEO before stepping down in the middle of last year and forming his own advisory and investment firm Sayers. A member of the board since 2012, he will replace Mark LoGiudice as Carlton president from the beginning of next year. Korda meanwhile spent two and a half decades as an insolvency and turnaround specialist at Arthur Andersen before co-founding KordaMentha on its collapse in 2002.

Luke Sayer, Mark Korda, Paul Brasher

Appointed as Essendon president last year, Brasher also spent close to thirty years at PwC, including a four-year stint as global chair up to 2009. Current and former employees of the professional services firm – which was a sponsor of Port Adelaide in 2019 – feature prominently around the league. In addition to the Victorian-based consultant presidents, PwC veteran and current member of the board of partners Andrew Wellington is chairman of the Brisbane Lions.

Elsewhere, PwC Indigenous Consulting co-CEO Jodie Sizer sits on the Collingwood board alongside Korda, while former Deloitte Global Managing Partner for Risk Services and Victoria practice boss John Trotter is a decade-long member on the board of the Melbourne Demons – the team currently atop of the ladder.

St Kilda board member and business consultant Paul Kirk meanwhile spent 35 years at PwC, including a stint as head of its global restructuring practice.

Outside of the Big Four, long-serving Geelong president Colin Carter – who stepped down at the end of last year – was a co-founding partner of the Australian branch of Boston Consulting Group. BCG’s Melbourne managing director and senior partner Grant McCabe, who serves as the strategy consulting giant’s Operations Practice leader for the Asia Pacific, also sits on the Cats’ board, while vice president Diana Taylor operates her own eponymous governance and culture consultancy.

The advisory-linked list goes on. At president level alone; GWS chairman Peter Shepherd is Chair of the Capgemini Advisory Board for Australia, while Andrew Pridham, the chairman of crosstown rival Sydney, co-founded financial services corporate advisory Moelis. Lastly, St Kilda chairman Andrew Bassat – Australian EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013 – was a management consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton before co-founding employment platform SEEK.

But before anyone bemoans the suits taking over football, it does sometimes work the other way; former Fremantle captain and current board member Peter Mann is the Energy & Emissions practice manager for Partners in Performance, and also worked at BCG. Still, Fremantle probably owes its existence in part to McKinsey. In 1983, the VFL commissioned a report from the management consulting kings into the sorry financial state of the league, with national expansion on the agenda soonafter.