Former HSF global CEO Mark Rigotti departs legal practice for business leadership role

Rigotti to head up Australian Institute of Company Directors in wake of recent retirement from HSF's partnership
Headshot of Mark Rigotti

Mark Rigotti Image courtesy of Herbert Smith Freehills

Mark Rigotti, the former global CEO of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), is to leave the firm to take up a leadership role at the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). 

News of Rigotti’s departure comes a month after he retired from HSF’s partnership and began a part-time advisory role, having served as the firm’s first sole global CEO between 2014 and 2020. He succeeds Angus Armour as the managing director and CEO of the AICD, one of Australia’s top business leadership, training, and networking organisations.

Writing on LinkedIn, Sydney-based Rigotti said: “I am very grateful for all that HSF has provided. I have benefited from many opportunities, friendships and professional relationships – from which I have learned and developed a lot. There have also been some challenging experiences along the way, which turned out to be great learning experiences.”  

Rigotti joined Australian legacy firm Freehills in 1996 prior to its 2012 merger with UK firm Herbert Smith and before taking up the CEO post served in a number of leadership roles including head of the banking and corporate groups. 

During his time as CEO he oversaw the firm’s successful post-merger integration and a period of significant European, African, Asian and, notably, US expansion. As manager of the firm’s executive committee from London in tandem with senior partner James Palmer he spearheaded the firm's response to a significant number of post-merger exits by senior partners and is credited with with stabilising the firm and then putting it on a strong footing.

Rigotti’s client experience will serve him in good stead for his role – earlier he practiced in HSF’s finance group, working with blue-chip Australian and international clients, and also headed the firm’s clients and markets relationships. So too will his interest in governance and supporting business as Australia adjusts to new leadership in Canberra following Labor’s victory in the recent federal election.  

Rigotti has also held non-executive roles with various Australian business groups and charities, including acting as chair of the University of Sydney’s Open Society and Common Purpose Taskforce. Since 2010 he has also served on the board of children’s cancer charity Redkite, becoming its chair last year.  

AICD chair, John Atkin, noted: “Mark has a demonstrated capacity to lead major organisations through transformational change. He has very relevant experience as a non-executive director, particularly in the not-for-profit sector.”

Atkin added: “His involvement with some of our key stakeholders, including the Business Council of Australia, Australia-Korea and European-Australian Business Councils and the University of Sydney, will prove invaluable”. 

Rigotti will take up the post in July, working in tandem with Armour until the latter’s exit from the AICD in September. 

Rigotti told AICD members: “I am looking forward to meeting members, our stakeholders and staff and working with the team to deliver an even stronger organisation that delivers more value for members and an even more engaging environment for staff.” 

“HSF will continue to flourish and thrive”, he told friends and colleagues on LinkedIn, “This will be the next chapter in my career, and I am looking forward to all the opportunities and experiences that it will present.” 

HSF senior partner, Rebecca Maslen-Stannage, commented: “Mark has made a huge contribution to the firm over his time with us. He leaves with our gratitude and we wish him all the best as he takes on this exciting role.”

Rigotti was succeeded as global CEO of HSF by Hong Kong-based Justin D’Agostino

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