Michael Thawley, Australia’s former and highly rated ambassador to the US, has re-joined the funds management industry – and his old firm – taking up the role as senior vice president for Capital Strategy Research at the big equities shop Capital Group.
Thawley, who started in the job last week, is based in Los Angeles but will be heavily involved with Capital’s Australian business, run by Paul Hennessy out of Sydney.
In what has gone down as an important moment for Australia in diplomatic folklore, when Thawley officially left his Government’s Washington position in 2005, ‘The Australian” newspaper reported, in part:
“In mid-March one of the most remarkable diplomatic scenes involving Australia took place in the White House. Our outgoing ambassador to the US, Michael Thawley, went there with his wife to pay his scheduled farewell call on the President.
“Thawley was in for a surprise. Instead of a momentary grip and grin, an extraordinary scene unfolded in the Oval Office. After a few minutes the President said he had a couple of others who wished to farewell the Australian. He went out and returned with Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, White House chief-of-staff Andy Card and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers.
“There are very few heads of state who would command a group such as that in Washington, much less ambassadors. Their presence was a personal tribute to Thawley, who has been a brilliant ambassador, but also a measure of George W. Bush’s view of the Howard Government.
“Part of Thawley’s success has been his closeness to John Howard. The Americans knew that Howard would cash any cheque Thawley wrote. Australia’s ability to take serious decisions quickly, as in the Asian tsunami, is supremely valued in Washington.”
Thawley was most recently secretary of the Australian Government’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) under prime ministers Tony Abbot and Malcolm Turnbull, from 2014 until January 2016.
Part of Thawley’s new brief back at Capital, where he has previously served on the investment committees of ‘World Investors’ and ‘Capital Research Global Investors’ will be to play a senior and active role supporting Paul Hennessy and his team in building out the Capital Group business in Australia, the company has announced today (Monday).
Hennessy said: “Michael brings a truly global policy perspective to Capital Group, and I know our investment team is delighted to welcome him back. Integrating political and policy analysis into research is as vital as ever for our clients, if you are to successfully navigate the investment opportunities and challenges around the world. Brexit was a stark example of this.”
As an aside, another former ambassador to the US, the Labor-appointed Don Russell, also made his way to funds management after his diplomatic tenure, joining Alliance Bernstein in New York, at first, and then BNY Mellon back in Sydney.
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)