Lessons learnt when the PM throws you under the bus


Christine Holgate is set to open up on the Cartier watches scandal, suicidal thoughts and the kindness of strangers when she joins the Forbes Australia Women’s Summit on 22 March.
Team Global Express CEO Christine Holgate. Image: Supplied

Missed out on seeing her at the Women’s Summit? Christine Holgate will speak live again at the Forbes Australia Business Summit. You can secure your ticket here.

Christine Holgate learned a lot in the wake of the Cartier watch incident that saw her shafted as CEO of Australia Post.

She learned about herself and the suicidal thoughts that invaded her mind, especially after a cartoonist portrayed her as what she perceived to be a prostitute. Under the caption, “When it’s time to go”, the drawing shows a scarlet woman leaving prime minister Scott Morrison with a watch face that reads “Federal ICAC” – implying corruption.

Holgate had given $5,000 Cartier watches to four executives to thank them for pulling off a deal with three banks worth $66 million a year to the postal giant. Upon learning of the gift, Morrison had got up in parliament and said she should step aside pending an inquiry, and if not, “She can go”.

She was not allowed to talk publicly. “And, to be honest, I was too ill to (talk),” she says.

And she learned that when she did eventually get to tell her story, it changed everything. Strangers helped her in unexpected ways -and others shared their own struggles.

Christine Holgate
Grace Tame with Christine Holgate | Image: Getty Images

“The more I spoke up,” she recalls, “the more other people started writing to me and telling me about their injustice at work. And the more I learned about that injustice at work, the more I learned a deeper side of domestic violence and homelessness in Australia.

“I’m now connected to a very diverse group of people who have been going through their own stories. They are strong people, but at that moment their confidence goes.


“And what I often say to them is, ‘You need to share your story, because at the moment you may feel alone, but the more that you share your story, the more that you’re going to feel connected, and people will help you through it.’”

Holgate will share her story and speak on resilience at the upcoming Forbes Women’s Summit 2023. Resilience is a quality she believes employers select when employing new staff.

“It’s not about if you get run over. It’s about how you get up again and how you conduct yourself through that process. That’s what people will remember.”

Christine Holgate

Indeed, after being rolled at Australia Post, Holgate has got up and turned around the bleeding logistics giant, Toll Global Express – rebranded under Holgate as Team Global Express.

Revenues were up 16% in her first year. She signed an 11-year partnership worth $1.8 billion to operate Aurizon’s containerised rail freight. And she announced what is possibly the largest trial of heavy electric trucks in the world.

Meanwhile, the postal service that she left in profit is anticipating major losses this financial year. It was reported this week to have paid eight executives more than $500,000 each in bonuses – 100 times more than those Cartier timepieces.

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Christine Holgate will appear at the inaugural Forbes Australia Women’s Summit, on 22 March, in a “fireside chat” on resilience with editor in chief Sarah O’Carroll. She’ll be joined at the summit by other influential women including Miranda Kerr, Catriona Wallace and Natasha Oakley, discussing how to break barriers in business, build wealth and make industry connections.

You can get your tickets for Forbes Australia’s inaugural Women’s Summit here.

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