Incoming PwC boss Kevin Burrowes cuts half the executive board

05 July 2023 3 min. read
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Still a fortnight from actually entering the country, incoming PwC Australia boss Kevin Burrowes has already marked his new territory with sweeping changes to the local Big Four firm’s executive board.

Described as no-nonsense and direct, incoming PwC Australia chief executive Kevin Burrowes has already made his mark on the local firm, with a further shake-up of its senior leadership team. According to reports, more than half of the professional services firm’s executive board will step down, with only three replacements named so far.

Current chief risk leader Tony O’Malley will also retire, along with general counsel Meredith Beattie.

Incoming PwC boss Kevin Burrowes cuts half the executive board

A former managing partner of King & Wood Mallesons who joined PwC in 2014 and was later appointed global legal services head, O’Malley only recently stepped into the chief risk and ethics officer role following the ousting of Sean Gregory over the government tax policy scandal, and will now be replaced by Melbourne-based assurance quality and risk boss Jan McCahey, who joined the firm in 2001. Beattie’s successor has yet to be finalised.

“Both Tony and Meredith had already indicated their intention to retire from the firm this financial year, but have realised that these critical roles will require a substantial leadership commitment,” Burrowes wrote in an internal partnership email seen by the AFR. “Jan is an experienced risk and quality leader and was previously PwC’s global leader for public policy and regulation. We will announce the new office of general counsel head shortly.”

In addition to the two retirements, and a number of other senior leaders who have now been ‘exited’ from the firm, PwC’s executive board has also had a significant rejig. Acting CEO Kristin Stubbins will remain (but move into a new role as strategy & transformation leader), alongside COO Liza Maimone, consulting leader David McKeering, and Rob Silverwood, who recently replaced another tax breach scapegoat in Peter Cajella as financial services lead.

That leaves all of Nicole Salimbeni (the firm’s consumer business head who has been leading its current governance reform program), Corinne Best (Trust & Risk head), Martina Crowley (PwC Private national leader), Chris Morris (Tax Business lead), Elizabeth O’Brien (Audit head), Julie McKay (Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer), and cloud & digital business boss Rohit Antao without a seat, although they will all continue in their other current roles.

That equates to seven of twelve board executives stepping down, with Burrowes and McCahey to fill two of those vacancies. However, the internal memo only named three further replacements, including Burrowes’ former UK partnership colleague and global financial services head Tom Gunson, who becomes local markets leader, Sydney managing partner Sue Horlin, promoted to head of assurance, and national People & Culture leader Catherine Walsh.

The internal memo also revealed that Burrowes has now received his Australian visa and will arrive in the country to start his new role on the 17th of July.

“My key priorities will be to enhance the firm’s governance, accountability and culture, restore our business performance and re-earn the trust of our stakeholders and the broader community,” Burrowes wrote. “I will also work closely with the board of partners to ensure we elect our next CEO in a suitable time-frame.”