The Life of Janet Holmes a’ Court: Chairwoman of Heytesbury

On this day, November 29 in the year 1943, one of the wealthiest women in Australia was born and grew up in Perth, Western Australia. Her name is Janet Holmes a’ Court, the chairman of Heytesbury Pty Ltd., one of the largest privately held company in Australia.

Janet Holmes a’ Court
Janet Holmes a’ Court (Credit:

Born Janet Lee Ranford, she was the daughter of an insurance salesman. She acquired a degree in science major in organic chemistry from the University of Western Australia. She was a teacher when she met her husband Robert Holmes who would become the first billionaire in Australia.

In 1990, Janet Holmes a’ Court inherited the business upon the death of her husband. With debts running into the hundreds of millions, she took over management and moved fast to reassure the company’s employees that the business wasn’t going to collapse anytime soon. She restructured Heytesbury Pty Ltd. by selling off some assets to pay down parts of the debts. Among those sold were a number of cattle stations in Western Australia and the Stoll Moss Theatre Group in Great Britain. At the same time, she worked to flatten the hierarchical organization of the company.

Janet is a believer in people empowerment. She endeavored to instill the value of teamwork in all levels and divisions of the company. For her, job is the greatest thing to give to someone.

Janet Holmes a’ Court was appointed by Prime Minister Paul Keating to serve on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. She has also been the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia from 1990 to 1994.

Janet and her husband Robert had four children. The family business is now focused on cattle ranching, winery, and construction.


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