Sam Mostyn at the 2024 Investment Magazine Chair Forum. Photo: Jack Smith.

Aware Super chair Sam Mostyn has resigned from her role at the helm of the $160 billion mega-fund after she was named Australia’s next Governor-General, succeeding David Hurley and becoming the second woman to serve as head of state.  

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday that King Charles has approved his recommendation of Mostyn. She will be sworn in on 1 July and serve a typical term of five years.  

“Sam Mostyn is an exceptional leader who represents the best of modern Australia. She has lived her life in the service of a powerful Australian principle: when more people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, our nation is a better place,” Albanese said in a media statement.  

“I am confident Ms Mostyn will discharge her duties as Governor-General with her customary dedication, creativity and compassion – and an unwavering sense of service to our nation.” 

Mostyn thanked Albanese for his vote of confidence.  

“I’m deeply honoured by this great privilege and look forward to representing the values, hopes and aspirations of all Australians,” she said in a statement.  

“I will never underestimate or take for granted the expectations that come with high office and I am ready to serve with integrity, compassion and respect.” 

She has also served on the board of the newly established Super Members Council (SMC) Australia, as well as on the advisory board of the Investment Magazine Chair Forum, in which she was an active participant this year. On becoming Governor-General designate, she has resigned from all her board roles immediately.  

Previously, she was also the first female commissioner of the Australian Football League and – being a prominent gender equality advocate in the industry – chaired the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce (WEET) which delivered a report with seven recommendations that facilitate women’s contribution to the economy in 2023. 

One of the immediate actions included in the report was paying super on parental leave – the lack of which is a main reason why women tend to end up with less super than men in retirement – and was actioned by the Labor government last month.   

SMC interim chair and former Labor health minister Nicola Roxon congratulated Mostyn and said the nation will benefit immensely from having her as the Governor-General. 

“Sam’s dedication, experience and gravitas has been invaluable to the profit-to-member super sector… She leaves a legacy of having improved the lives for millions of women at retirement. 

Allow diversity to flourish 

Speaking at Aware Super’s International Women’s Day event last month, Mostyn said her method of getting the best of a diverse trustee board involves putting herself second and focusing on orchestrating the board’s skills. 

“The way in which diversity must be allowed to flourish means that there’s going to be often quite difficult conversations, but they must be handled with respect,” she said. 

The boards must work with their chief executives, she said, as they keep senior executives in check for their behaviours.  

“If people look up into an organisation and see that senior people are still behaving poorly, they know the rules are okay for them whenever they are [behaving poorly] too. 

“You need to see the accountability of behaviour, impact, and senior people have been either brought back to being better leaders or leaving. If that’s not happening, I don’t think you really moved the culture.” 

Aware Super CEO Deanne Stewart said Mostyn is an “exceptional leader” and the fund was “privileged” to have someone of her calibre serve as chair. 

“While we’re of course saddened to be losing her, we appreciate that this appointment will allow the nation as a whole to experience her empathetic approach and commitment to improving the lives of all Australians,” she said.  

“On a personal note, I’m very grateful for the wonderful guidance and support Sam has provided to me, the Board and indeed the broader fund.” 

Aware Super will now begin the search for a new independent chair.

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