Woman to take top job at Cats

Geelong will achieve off-field history next month when it installs the first woman club boss in the AFL.

Although the Cats’ most senior female executive, Rosie King, will take on the chief executive’s role only in an acting capacity, the man she will temporarily replace, Brian Cook, predicted that a full-time woman chief executive would soon serve at an AFL club.

King, Geelong’s general manager of people and culture, will replace Cook for the first month of his extended leave in the US, where he will undertake an advanced executive course at Harvard University.

The club’s chief financial officer, Rob Threlfall, will serve as chief executive in May before Cook returns on the eve of the club’s first home game under lights at Simonds Stadium on June 1.

King will oversee the finalising in April of the Kardinia Park stadium’s new stand, MCG-size scoreboard and four light towers. Cook, who rejected a lucrative offer to take over at North Melbourne late last year, said his two-month absence from Geelong would see his role split in order ”to give two people a lengthy time to act as CEOs”.

”Hopefully it will be a learning period for our own club as well as for them and their development.”

Of the prospect of a permanent woman club boss emerging in the male-dominated AFL industry, Cook said: ”I think we’re getting to that stage. It’s significant that we’ve appointed Rosie as our acting CEO and there hasn’t been one eyebrow raised.”

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou described the Cats move as ”fantastic and long overdue. I congratulate Geelong and see no reason why we won’t see more women in those positions in the future.”