By Michael Northcott Tuesday, 08 January 2013

Cynthia Carroll

Cynthia Carroll

Dark day for female bosses as Anglo American and Virgin pick men

The number of women in CEO roles took a hit on Tuesday as Anglo American appointed Mark Cutifani as its new chief, and Virgin Atlantic's Julie Southern was pipped at the post by Craig Kreeger.

Mining giant Anglo American announced on Tuesday that it has chosen to replace its CEO Cynthia Carroll with AngloGold Ashanti’s boss Mark Cutifani, three months after she announced she was stepping down from the role. 

Cutifani, who has long been touted as the frontrunner to take over, will start work on 3rd April, marking a new start for shareholders who had become jittery about Carroll remaining in the post. 

During her five years in the top job, the firm saw its share price plunge significantly. Following the news that Cutifani is to replace Carroll, Anglo American stock jumped 2.3% in morning trading.

Her replacement will be only the second boss at the company not to be South African, significant because of the strong contingent of South African shareholders that own Anglo. 

Its chairman, John Parker, said: ‘Mark Cutifani is an experienced listed company chief executive with a focus on creating value. He is a seasoned miner, with broad experience of mining operations and projects across a wide range of commodities and geographies, including South Africa and the Americas.’

Cutifani will be hoping to defeat some of Anglo’s recent demons, which include a wave a strikes and employee mutinies that affected South Africa’s platinum mining industry last summer. Anglo’s platinum business accounts for around 40% of the world’s production. 

And then there’s Virgin Atlantic Airways, which announced on Tuesday that American Airlines executive Craig Keeger will replace Steve Ridgway as the new chief exec. 

He is currently American Airlines’ senior vice-president for customers, meaning it is his job to roll out new products and services on the fleet of planes. He has been at AA since 1985, and spent six years in London co-ordinating the airline’s overseas operations.

The decision means no top spot for Julie Southern, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial director, who was tipped as the frontrunner to succeed Ridgway. 

Nonetheless, Richard Branson said: ‘We are thrilled to welcome Craig to Virgin Atlantic – he is the right person to succeed Steve Ridgway at this dynamic and challenging time for our airline. We believe Craig has the experience and passion to drive Virgin Atlantic forward.’

Let's hope that, as 2013 progresses, the boardroom gender balance starts to lean in the other direction...

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