Andrew Barkla, once the highest paid exec on the ASX, to step down as IDP Education CEO

Andrew Barkla, once the highest paid exec on the ASX, to step down as IDP Education CEO

With an enviable post-IPO performance to his name at an English language testing powerhouse that has remained profitable through the pandemic despite restricted movements for international students, IDP Education (ASX: IEL) CEO and managing director Andrew Barkla will resign in September after more than seven years in the role.

The executive, who thanks to lucrative options held pre-listing took home the largest pay packet of any ASX CEO in FY19 at $37.76 million, has led the group since August 2015 just before its listing when it raised $331 million at $2.65 per share.

At the time of writing, IDP shares are trading at almost 10 times that level at $25 each, and surpassed the $40 mark late last year.

This translates to an increase in market capitalisation for the Melbourne-based company from $670 million to $6.8 billion, which lifted IDP Education into the ASX100 with the help of a major Indian acquisition in mid-2021.

As the world’s largest international student placement company and a leading International English Language Testing System (IELTS) provider, the company posted a 68 per cent lift in net profit in the December half as the sector started to gather pace again.

In an announcement after the market closed yesterday, IDP Education said Barkla and the board had agreed the time was right for a leadership transition now that the industry is stabilising and borders are opening.

The outgoing CEO, who was president and managing director of SAP ANZ before joining the company, will remain at IDP Education in an advisory capacity until September 2023, while the board intends to recommend shareholders elect him as a non-executive director at the 2023 annual general meeting to be held in October.

"Andrew joined IDP with a vision to create a global platform and connected community. He saw the opportunity to combine IDP’s physical footprint with a sophisticated digital platform to extend IDP’s leadership position and enhance its competitive advantage," IDP chairman Peter Polson said.

"Indeed, it was the successful execution of this digital transformation that allowed IDP to trade effectively through the pandemic and deliver a strong half year result in February.

"Andrew’s extensive background in technology and his customer-focussed philosophy have been central to the company’s success and have helped to establish a culture of innovation within IDP. Andrew has developed unique skills in international education which are valuable to IDP, and the board is delighted that he will remain within the company."

Barkla said he was passionate about the opportunities that exist for IDP, a "special company with amazing people that deliver meaningful impact".

"Whilst I believe it is the right time for me to step down, I want to stay strongly connected to IDP so I can contribute to its ongoing evolution," he said.

"It was important to me that I worked with the Board and IDP’s leadership team to ensure we had successfully navigated the pandemic before this change was made.

"Orderly leadership transition is a hallmark of a well-managed business, so I want to make sure I assist the board as our directors work to secure the best possible successor for the role."

The IDP Board will undertake an extensive global search to identify a suitably qualified leader to replace the outgoing managing director.

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