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About the Governor

Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia

Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC is the 32nd Governor of Western Australia and the inaugural female governor.

Prior to being installed as Governor on the 20 October 2014, Her Excellency had a distinguished career both in business and in the public sector.

In June 2016, Her Excellency was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours for eminent service to the people of Western Australia, to the promotion of international investment, scientific research and export opportunities, and through roles with maritime, mining, emergency management and not-for-profit organisations.

Her Excellency enjoys the natural environment and her recreational interests include keeping fit, walking and hiking, travel and reading as well as continued learning.

Early life & family

Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC standing in a room in Government HouseHer Excellency was born in Western Australia and was educated at Wembley Primary School and Churchlands Senior High School. She then attended the University of Western Australia where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a double major in mathematics and later with a Bachelor of Economics.

Mrs Sanderson’s parents were both from WA, her father was born in Kunjin (near Corrigin), and was an agricultural scientist and Deputy Director General of Agriculture for many years. Her mother was a high school teacher and Deputy Principal.

Mrs Sanderson married Lancelot (Lance) John Sanderson in 1972. They were married for 35 years and travelled extensively, including a four month trip around Australia with their infant son. Lance passed away in 2007 after a twelve month battle with cancer. He had a distinguished career as a telecommunications engineer with Telstra and was the Chief Engineer for Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory and then Regional General Manager Network and IT, before leaving to set up his own consultancy in 1997.

Together, Mr and Mrs Sanderson had two sons, Jarrad and Jason. Jarrad is currently studying for a veterinary science degree at Murdoch University, and already holds a science degree with majors in biochemistry and genetics from the University of Western Australia. Jason graduated from engineering at University College London and works on a FIFO basis with Rio Tinto.

Career & Public Service

After graduating from university, Her Excellency joined the Western Australian Treasury where she worked for 17 years, including five years as Chief Research Officer and five years as Director of Treasury’s Economic and Financial Policy Division.

Mrs Sanderson was also Deputy Director General of Transport, and spent almost a year as Acting Director General, covering all modes of transport. As part of this role, she chaired a number of committees and participated in a number of studies designed to improve Perth and Western Australia’s transport.

Fremantle Ports

From 1991 to 2008, Mrs Sanderson was Chief Executive Officer of Fremantle Ports. For 17 years, she led the organisation through a program of major change, reform, commercialisation and improvement. Under her leadership, Fremantle Ports achieved triple accreditation for quality, safety and the environment. Container trade also quadrupled, and in 2007, Fremantle Ports was the first Western Australian organisation to receive an Australian Business Excellence Gold Award.

Fremantle Ports was also awarded the Australian Business Excellence Medal for being the highest scoring organisation in Australia in 2007, in terms of the Business Excellence Framework.

At the time of the awards, Her Excellency said the prestigious recognition was, “…a tribute to the ability of the Fremantle Ports’ staff and their commitment to high standards of customer and community service”.

During her time as CEO, Fremantle Ports also received a Premier’s Award for contribution to economic development and a Lloyds List Award for corporate social responsibility in the transport and shipping industry.

Agent General

From 2008 to 2011 Mrs Sanderson was Agent General for Western Australia, acting as the representative in the United Kingdom for the Government of Western Australia at that time.

In this role, which covered Europe and Russia, she was based in London and was responsible for promoting investment in Western Australia as well as Western Australian exports and interests generally.

While in London she also worked to promote Western Australia as a base for the Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope (the SKA) as well as coordinating with UK based parties for aspects of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the royal visit to Perth in November 2011.  

As Agent General, Mrs Sanderson also promoted the excellence of WA science and scientific research and worked with outstanding WA scientists to do this.

Private Sector

Immediately prior to taking on the role of Governor in October 2014, Mrs Sanderson was Chairman of Gold Corporation and the independent chair of the State Emergency Management Committee. She was also a non-executive director of listed companies Downer EDI and Atlas Iron, and a board member of the not-for-profit St John of God Healthcare and the International Centre for Radio-Astronomy Research.

She was also on the board for Senses Australia and the Paraplegic Benefit Fund and was a patron of children’s charity Variety WA, as well as patron of the Australian Branch of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association. She is currently the Chair for the Perth’s Alumni of the Committee for Perth.

Further education & university involvement

Her Excellency has taken a strong interest in continuing education throughout her career.

In 2005 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Western Australia, and then in 2015, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Murdoch University.

Mrs Sanderson co-chaired the First Murdoch Commission which looked at Western Australia and its place in the region, and assessed the challenges and prospects that the Asian region will present to WA.

Earlier in her career, Mrs Sanderson was on the Council of Curtin University and, more recently, on the advisory council to the Curtin Business School as well as holding the voluntary position of Adjunct Professor in the School.

She has also been a member of the:

  • Ambassadorial Council for the UWA Business School
  • Advisory board for the Notre Dame Business School
  • Board of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at Kings College London.

Board involvement

Mrs Sanderson has actively served in a number of positions across boards, executives and groups throughout her career, including the following:

  • Chair and Deputy Chair of Ports Australia
  • Board of Austrade
  • Australian Wheat Board
  • The Rio Tinto WA Future Fund
  • A Trustee of the Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Trust Fund
  • Rottnest Island Authority
  • Western Quarries
  • The Urban Lands Council
  • The Western Australian Lands Authority (LandCorp)
  • Stateships
  • The Dampier Port Authority (Deputy member).

Awards & achievements

During her career, Her Excellency has held a comprehensive list of professional affiliations including:

  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics
  • Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (and a member of the State Council)
  • Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
  • Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia
  • Member of Chief Executive Women.

Mrs Sanderson also received a number of awards during her time at Fremantle Ports, including:

  • Telstra Businesswoman of the Year for Western Australia,1996
  • The Centenary Medal for service to the maritime industry, 2001
  • National Lloyds List Shipping and Transport Hall of Fame inaugural inductee, 2005
  • Fremantle First Business Awards, Business Hall of Fame inductee, 2002
  • Export Hero award from the Australian Institute of Export, 2008
  • Ambassador for the Western Australian Industry and Export Awards.