Ms Kelly is one of three nominees for the annual award which recognises a chief executive who exhibits corporate stewardship, demonstrates independent thinking, creates lasting value for shareholders, and has put their stamp on an industry.
Michael Holt, head of equity and corporate credit research at Morningstar, said that while long-term accomplishments were important in deciding the winner, “we also evaluate moves made during the calendar year”.
Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted praised Ms Kelly as being “one of Australia’s most successful chief executives”, and said her leadership and dedication has seen Westpac emerge as a stronger company.
“During her tenure the value of the company has more than doubled, with market capitalisation increasing from just under $50 billion to around $104 billion,” he said.
“Gail drove the successful merger with St George, which saw the group strengthen its position in retail banking and in wealth.”
Mr Maxsted said Ms Kelly had also overseen the development of a diverse workforce.
“She has personally driven the growth of women in senior executive roles, mature-aged workers and those who work part time,” he said.
The two other nominees for Morningstar’s CEO of the Year award are Gregory Henslee from O’Reilly Automotive and John Martin from Gilead Sciences.
The winner of the award will be announced on CNBC’s Nightly Business Report on 21 January.