World Class New Zealand: Global corporate game-changer

Judith Hanratty is one of handful of Kiwis who, unlike our feathered namesake, flies very high indeed but is better recognised, outside her home country than within it, for her outstanding achievements.

A barrister originally from Wellington, she is one of the most influential people in modern corporate governance.
As company secretary at British Petroleum Group (BP) in the United Kingdom, she pioneered the concept of corporate social responsibility and created model for the transparency and good governance of major listed global companies. Her work in the 1990s was very influential in the UK’s later watershed reviews of corporate governance.
BP was the first company to produce separate report on its environmental and community impacts, leading to programmes that are now the norm.
Hanratty says it has become clearer that corporate performance can no longer be defined and perceived solely in terms of profitability. “Corporates need to strive to develop business model that generates social and environmental as well as financial value. That is the next move in this journey and New Zealand is well placed to be in the vanguard.”
She says New Zealand has the advantage of being trusted internationally.

“The relative lack of corruption, respect for the rule of law, democratic processes and system of public administration are hugely important as is the deeply rooted cultural respect for the land and natural resources. Succeeding competitively in these ‘softer’ societal attributes will be very important as global consumers exert their right of choice and so measurement of these, too, is important.
 “Just as New Zealand led the deregulation of business, so there is role it can play in helping to lead the way in setting the standards to which responsible business should aspire – the model for responsible capitalism.”

Hanratty’s work with BP made an impact in the insurance world. As chairman and chief executive of BP’s insurance adviser, The Tanker Insurance Company, she reformed the group’s approach to financing cover for rare, severe events – earning international industry awards. Lloyd’s of London described her as “turning the insurance world upside down”. She has been member of the Council of Lloyd’s of London and the UK’s Competition Commission and Gas and Electricity Markets Authority.
She is currently non-executive director of reinsurance company Partner Re (NYSE) and chairman of the Commonwealth Education Trust, which she rescued and reinvented.
A former New Zealand golf international who has maintained single-figure handicap throughout her business career, Hanratty sits on the board of England Golf.
Her 28-year stint with BP began in 1975 as legal counsel for New Zealand and the South Pacific. She was also on the board of the New Zealand Employers’ Federation, the Government Property organisation and the inaugural board of Telecom New Zealand, as well as member of the Council and treasurer of her alma mater, Victoria University.
Hanratty has an OBE for services to the oil and gas industry and is Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. M

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