Mark Steinert

9 May 2013 — Stockland’s management shakeup has seen the loss of key executives from the group but no changes to the sustainability focus –  at least as far as is known, a company spokesman said on Thursday.

However, staff are awaiting announcement of a strategic review of the company’s operations on Monday to confirm whether their jobs are safe. The Stockland sustainability team numbers about 12 people throughout the country in various arms of the business.

In the background is a reported shift in the property industry back to core “stakeholder value” and away from headline sustainability initiatives for some of the listed property companies battered by the global financial crisis. It’s not a widespread shift. Lend Lease is still strong on sustainability – with Barangaroo on its long term workbook, that will be a given for a few years to come. Mirvac also made a strong appointment with Paul Ewards to head the sustainability team and Investa is still strong with Beck Dawson head of sustainable buildings and communications and Shaun Condon, head of environment and safety.

For Stockland, a national and global outperformer in green building and sustainability strategy, a pull back from a sustainability commitment would be a serious blow to the rest of the sustainable property industry. The company won several accolades in the recent past and set a cracking pace under former sustainability head Siobhan Toohill, who is now with Westpac.

But staff are hopeful.

Chief executive Mark Steinert seems to understand that sustainability is something more than a superficial add-on and one that can add to the value of the business, especially in down times, sources say. And Steinert’s background with UBS as an analyst included work on “shared value”, they say.  So there are a lot of fingers crossed for Monday’s announcement that this sentiment will translate to commitment within the company to continue at least that part of the strategy. Notwithstanding, however, that a shift away from a strong residential focus, plugs holes in those hopes since so many sustainability initiatives are residential and communities based.

Overall it seems logical to keep the sustainability focus as much of the Stockland branding has been around a high level sustainability sentiment that has informed the company direction and business.

In the leaked report on Wednesday, reported in The Australian Financial Review (and tweeted very quickly by The Fifth Estate – @FifthEstateAu) it’s already known that current chief financial officer Tim Foster will leave Stockland later this year and that also leaving after 13 years is Mark Hunter, group executive and chief executive officer of residential property.

Queensland general manager Kingsley Andrew and residential NSW and Victoria general manager Andrew Whitson will act as joint interim chief executive officers while a selection process takes place, the company said in an official follow up statement on Thursday.

A newly created position of group executive strategy and stakeholder relations will be filled by Simon Shakesheff, a former colleague of Steinert at UBS, will join the company in August.

Shakesheff has 25 years’ experience analysing and advising property groups, most recently holding the position of managing director with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the statement said.

He has also been managing director at UBS Australia Investment Banking – Real Estate Group, head of real estate analysis at JP Morgan Australia Equities and equities analyst and head of real estate analysis at Macquarie Equities.

Shakesheff  will bring together Stockland’s strategy and stakeholder relations functions including investor relations, government relations, stakeholder communication and research.

On face value it signals that Stockland intends to get way more serious with its investment profile.

In other moves, current group executive Michael Rosmarin will take up the new position of chief operating officer, with responsibilities including human resources, operations, operational risk and marketing.

Stockland managing director and chief executive officer Mark Steinert’s executive now comprises:

  • Group executive and chief executive officer – John Schroder
  • Group executive and chief executive officer retirement living – David Pitman
  • Joint interim chief executive officers residential – Kingsley Andrew and Andrew Whitson
  • Chief financial officer – Tim Foster
  • Group executive strategy and stakeholder relations – Simon Shakesheff
  • Group executive and chief operating officer – Michael Rosmarin