The Australian Financial Review ran a string of stories late last year revealing four formal complaints had been lodged against Vik Bansal.
The Australian Financial Review ran a string of stories late last year revealing four formal complaints had been lodged against Vik Bansal.

Boss accused of bullying steps down

The under-fire but highly successful boss of Cleanaway is parting ways with the waste management company after a stinging series of media reports alleging he bullied staff.

Four formal complaints had been lodged against Vik Bansal, the first being in May, The Australian Financial Review reported.

Chairman Mark Chellew was forced to respond at the company's annual general meeting in October, saying the board had thoroughly investigated the concerns around Mr Bansal's "leadership style" and taken them seriously.

"The board and Vik discussed these issues extensively, and Vik has pledged to change certain aspects of his approach that have not been consistent with development of a more progressive culture within the company," Mr Chellew told investors.

"Vik has apologised to the board, to the staff and to the public and agreed to surrender his LTIP (long-term incentive plan) entitlement for 2021 as a further expression of his contrition."

Vik Bansal led an award-winning turnaround of the company. Picture: Waste Management Review
Vik Bansal led an award-winning turnaround of the company. Picture: Waste Management Review

In his address, Mr Bansal then told the meeting Cleanaway needed "to do better on the people and culture fronts - and that starts with me as your CEO - owning this fully and how I lead the business day to day through the second half of this strategic journey".

"I want to assure you, and I remain confident, that Cleanaway will become an employer of choice in the coming years, and I intend to lead that transformation with the same passion as we have done with other strategic pillars."

The journey he was referring to was the reversing of fortunes at Cleanaway that he led - with its strong operating and financial performance for 2016 recognised with the Turnaround Management Association's Turnaround of the Year Award in the large company category.

So the sudden announcement on Thursday of his departure was considered surprising, largely in its timing, Macquarie Research said.

Mr Bansal will deliver his last set of results for Cleanaway on February 19.
Mr Bansal will deliver his last set of results for Cleanaway on February 19.

"After overcoming a difficult period through the first half relating to various cultural issues in the business, we would have expected Mr Bansal's tenure to extend a little longer," Macquarie Research said.

Cleanaway said Mr Bansal had reflected on his future priorities over the Christmas and New Year period and advised the board he would like a leadership transition to begin in the first half of calendar 2021.

"The board and Mr Bansal mutually agreed that it is the right time for Cleanaway to move forward under new leadership," the company said in a statement.

Mr Chellew thanked Mr Bansal for his service, saying he had led Cleanaway's transformation and growth with enormous dedication, which showed in the company's financial results.

Mr Bansal will deliver the company's first-half results on February 19 before ceding executive responsibility to Mr Chellew while his successor is found.

"There will be a period of uncertainty pending a replacement CEO being appointed, especially given the pair of shoes that need to be filled," Macquarie Research said.

After the surprise announcement, Cleanaway shares slumped to $2.27 before clawing back to $2.38, down 8.65 per cent, in early afternoon trade.

Originally published as Boss accused of bullying steps down



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