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Larry and the Science Factory

iStockphoto/Vikiss

iStockphoto/Vikiss

By Ian Maxwell

After meeting with new CEO Larry Marshall, Ian Maxwell looks at CSIRO’s place among public and private interests, and the options from here.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Larry Marshall is an old colleague of mine from the world of start-ups and venture capital. Along with others who know Larry and have had dealings with CSIRO, I was quite surprised late last year when Larry was announced as the new CEO of CSIRO. However, not unpleasantly surprised.

CSIRO has a history of unusual CEO appointments. For example, the three prior appointments were Megan Clark, previously Vice President, Health, Safety, Environment, Community and Sustainability at BHP; Geoff Garrett, who was head of the South African CSIR, the South African equivalent to CSIRO; and Colin Adam, who was head of commercialisation in CSIRO prior to becoming CEO, but before that had been in the corporate sector.

These are “unusual” appointments because none was an internal appointment of a candidate with a long history within CSIRO. An organisation that is performing strongly tends to have processes to identify and groom internal CEO candidates. Often a candidate who does become CEO has been employed in the organisation for decades, in many different roles. Some current well-known examples are Tim Cook of Apple, who has been there since 1998, and Jeffrey Immelt of GE, who has been at the company since 1982. These internal CEO candidates carry the culture and vision of the organisation with them into their CEO roles in a way that external candidates cannot. The very...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.