Board of directors
Peter Polson - Chairman
Peter Polson was appointed Chairman of Challenger in June 2004. Previously, he held the position of Group Executive, Investment and Insurance Services at the Commonwealth Bank, where he was responsible for all investment and insurance services for the group. Mr Polson retired from the Commonwealth Bank in October 2002. Since the early 1990s Mr Polson has held a number of executive roles in financial services including positions at the Colonial group and National Mutual Funds Management (International) Limited.
Brian Benari - Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer
Brian Benari was appointed Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer in February 2012. Prior to this he was the company's first joint Group CFO/ Group COO, with oversight of Challenger's Treasury, Finance, Legal, Tax, Compliance, Information Technology, Investor and Government relations functions.
Prior to assuming the Group CFO/Group COO role in October 2008, Mr Benari was founding Chief Executive of Challenger's Mortgage Management division, which, with lending assets in excess of $23 billion and more than $100 billion of mortgages under management, was the largest non-bank mortgage lender and one of the largest issuers of Residential Mortgage Backed Securities in Australia. In 2009 this business was sold to National Australia Bank.
Having originally trained as a Chartered Accountant with Andersen, Mr Benari joined Challenger in March 2003 with many years of skills and experience from within the finance industry, both offshore and onshore. He has held a number of executive roles with institutions including JP Morgan, Bankers Trust and Macquarie Bank.
Russell Hooper was previously a director and chairman of the audit committee for Commonwealth Insurance Limited, a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank. Mr Hooper was also previously Chief General Manager, Funds Management at St. George Bank Limited and prior to that held various positions within the financial services group at Advance Bank Limited and St. George Bank Limited for more than thirteen years.
Graham Cubbin joined the Challenger Board in January 2004. Mr Cubbin was a Senior Executive with CPH from 1990 until September 2005, including Chief Financial Officer for 13 years. Prior to joining CPH, Mr Cubbin held senior finance positions with a number of major companies including Capita Finance Group and Ford Motor Company.
Leon Zwier became an independent director on the board in September 2006. He is a lawyer from Melbourne, a partner in legal firm Arnold Bloch Leibler since 1991, whose practice focuses on commercial litigation and dispute resolution; and corporate recovery and insolvency.
Jonathan Grunzweig became a director of the board in November 2010. Based in California, USA, he is Principal and Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Colony Capital, LLC, and oversees the sourcing, structuring, execution and management of all Colony Capital investments and divestments on a global basis. Prior to joining Colony in 1999, Mr. Grunzweig was a Partner with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where he specialised in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.
Brenda Shanahan became a director of the board in April 2011. Ms Shanahan is a Graduate of Melbourne University in Economics and Commerce and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. Ms Shanahan has a research and institutional background in finance in Australia and overseas economies and sharemarkets. She has held executive positions in stock broking, investment management and an actuarial firm. Ms Shanahan is also a non-executive director of Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Limited.
JoAnne Stephenson became a director of the board in October 2012. Ms Stephenson was previously a partner with KPMG and holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Queensland. She is a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Steven Gregg became a director of the board in October 2012. Mr Gregg's more recent senior executive roles included Partner and Senior Adviser at McKinsey & Company and Global Head of Investment Banking at ABN Amro. His experience has spanned both domestic and international arenas having worked in the USA and UK. Steven holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of NSW.