Alexandra Tselios

Smoke Signal: Alan Joyce vs Sol Trujillo

Image: AAP

The Big Smoke’s ethos is such that we always try to show both sides of any issue.

Given this, following the recent announcement of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce to shed 5000 jobs and help save two billion dollars over the next two years we had both Alexander Thomas and Ross Stitt give their insightful views – I am sure you will find you agree with one or the other.

This morning, however, I was asked by our Editor, Paul, whether Alan Joyce was just another Sol Trujillo? I hadn’t quite made the correlation before but on reflection I could see where he was going with it.

Quite frankly, I happen to agree with Tony Abbot’s stance on Governments bailing out corporations. I actually also quite like Alan Joyce.

Anyone analysing the Australian Aviation industry’s performance or, at the very least, the situation at Qantas, will agree that it has come about due to a number of intricate factors, but at the end of the day the buck stops with Alan Joyce. Only two months ago he said Qantas would not need a handout, and today, following his union showdown, it will be interesting to see the results. His track-record since becoming CEO of Qantas in 2008 is marred with mismanagement of both resources and people, leaving shareholders with a falling share price and generally no dividends, despite the unwavering blame he has tried to lay on the Qantas Sales Act.

So, does this make him another Trujillo?

Well, if we measure a man by his inability to effectively lead, or manage his relationship with shareholders in conjunction with unacceptable results, then yes, the connection is clear. In an age of performance management and the need for corporate transparency I believe a highly paid CEO should be held responsible.

A common thread I identified between both Trujillo and Joyce is a sense of entitlement over the companies they lead,  with the CEO trademark of “I will lead this company into its successes”, despite the data saying otherwise. An unwillingness to cooperate with stakeholders; being overly combative; a seemingly unrepentant attitude towards strategy regardless of the effects on the human capital in the organisation…I get it.

In the comparison of Joyce vs Trujillo it’s still early days, but I will nominate Joyce the winner at this point with his 36% pay cut. Also, personally, I just find him more likeable than Trujillo – but his days (and hours) at Qantas are likely to be numbered if this Australian brand is to survive.

In saying that, Trujillo famously said, “Either catch the vision or catch the bus” and it sounds like plenty of soon-to-be-ex-employees of Qantas will be fighting for a concession bus pass!

Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

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5 Comments

  1. Jordan Davis said:

    I think Alex could open a few stitches in regards to Mining, Unions, FIFO and all that mismanagement!

  2. Amelia said:

    Yes I agree Alexandra the comparison is almost deafening between Sol and Allen! But I have come to the same conclusion as you and Allen is the better of the 2 devils

  3. HateABbot said:

    But alexandar you haven’t said WHICH opinoni you agree with between ROss and Alexander! How can you agree with Tony Abbott not giving Qantas the financial support they NEED! Are you happy for companies to end up like TOYOTA and for peoples families to STARVE?

  4. James M said:

    Smart comparisons and a clever article Alexandra. I think that Alan Joyce will be sent packing though very soon with his tail between his legs

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