News

Helloworld board orders probe of "management style"

The management style of Helloworld’s senior leaders is under scrutiny amid concerns it could be undermining the success of the firm’s multi-million dollar transformation.

Travel Today has learned that the board of Helloworld has called in independent employment experts after information emerged from a number of sources “raising issues of management style”.

An email from the board outlining the reasons behind the move has been sent to members of the company’s leadership team, with each manager asked to provide full and frank views on the way the company is being run.

The board said it acted after several sources questioned the current style of management, its negative impact on the leadership team and its potential to harm the success of the transformation.

In the email, the board said it took such matters “very seriously”.

The “cultural health check” as it was described, is being led by Christina Grover, founder and managing director of employment consultancy HR Spectrum. She has been conducting interviews on a confidential basis with the leadership team and will report her findings to the board. It is unclear what the board will do with the feedback.

Many of the senior managers have already met with Grover and shared their thoughts. Well-placed sources told Travel Today that leadership team members have felt undermined as a result of the style of management, with the ability to do their job suffering as a result.

The cultural check is thought to be covering a wide range of issues, including the performance and style of the board, chief executive Rob Gurney, chief financial officer Elizabeth Gaines and other senior managers.

Gurney’s robust approach in particular has been the subject of commentary. While regarded as intellectually gifted, the ex-Qantas stalwart arrived at then Jetset Travelworld in August 2012 with a reputation as an aggressive and ruthless executive. His appointment was met with surprise within the industry, with observers wondering whether Gurney was the right “cultural fit” for a company like JTG. 

Nevertheless, despite his perceived anti-travel agent stance while at Qantas, he has overseen the launch of Helloworld with the number of travel agents signing up to the brand said to be in line with expectations.

In a statement, Helloworld confirmed that its board has engaged a consultant to conduct the “cultural health check”.

“This is common practice given the extent of the transformation which has taken place at Helloworld Limited over the last 12 months,” it said.

“This is designed to ensure the long-term success of Helloworld Limited.”

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