A2 Milk's outgoing chief executive Geoff Babidge says his replacement's relative lack of experience in the fast moving consumer goods (FCMG) arena will be more of an asset than an impediment.
The company, which markets an alternative A2 protein milk, announced it had appointed airline executive Jayne Hrdlicka to the role of managing director and chief executive to succeed Geoffrey Babidge, who will retire from his role next year.
A2 said Babidge's retirement was part of a carefully planned transition programme which the board has put in place to create an orderly and successful handover.
"Jayne is an outstanding senior executive with particular strengths highly relevant to a2 Milk's next growth phase," a2 said.
Babidge said he had been in the unusual position of being part of the process to select his successor.
Along with the usual attributes around financial acumen and credibility, the company was looking for someone who could "think outside the square" and operate in an environment of disruption, he told the Herald.
"Those were attributes that were in fact well ahead of [the] need to necessarily have experience in FMCG," Babidge said.
"We are not a traditional FMCG company and we need to do things differently to achieve growth," he said.
"We can't follow the same businesses models that most FMCG companies follow."
Aside from a stint on the board of Woolworths in Australia, Hrdlicka did not have substantial experience in FMCG.
"Its not an impediment. In fact, it's and advantage as to the skill set she's going to bring to the company," he said.
Babidge, who sold a parcel of shares in the company earlier this year, said he was still a substantial shareholder in the company and that he intended to remain one.
A2 Milk last month was made a Deloitte Top 200 Company of the Year.
The company has been one of the most popular stocks on both sides of the Tasman in the last year or so, having enjoyed a meteoric rise in its share price.
Babidge, at the Deloitte function for the award, said: "It's taken 17 years to achieve overnight success."
A2 said Hrdlicka was expected to start her role at the start of the 2019 financial year.
Babidge has agreed to be available until December 2018 to assist the transition.
Hrdlicka has been chief executive of Qantas subsidiary Jetstar Group since 2012.
That includes Jetstar's international and domestic operations in Australia and New Zealand and Jetstar-branded airlines in Singapore, Japan and Vietnam.
Last month Hrdlicka moved from chief executive of Jetstar Group to become chief of Qantas loyalty and digital ventures.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said Hrdlicka had made a big contribution to the group, particularly Jetstar.
In her five years at Jetstar she oversaw its continued expansion in Asia, particularly in Japan, as well as expanding the low-cost carrier's operations into regional New Zealand and strengthening its core Australian operations.
"Jetstar is now one of the world's leading low-cost carriers and has delivered a series of record profits. Jayne has been instrumental in the expansion of Jetstar in Asia and she leaves with our best wishes for her next challenge," he said.
She will remain in her loyalty role until she leaves Qantas in March next year.