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Sir James McNeill, 1980

William Dargie

oil on canvas (frame: 120.0 cm x 95.0 cm)

Sir James McNeill CBE (1916-1987) was chairman of BHP from 1977 to 1984. Educated at Newcastle High School, he joined the company in at the age of 16 as assistant to the secretary of the general manager, holding this position for eleven years before becoming the chief clerk in the Newcastle operation. After gaining accounting qualifications, he moved to the accounts division in Melbourne in 1946, threading his way through the ranks of the financial divisions of the companies before becoming Executive General Manager, Finance, in 1967. He became a managing director in 1971. Amongst his many directorships and consultative positions, McNeill was a president of the Australian Mining Industry Council, a director of ANZ, a member of the council of and chairman of the finance committee of Monash University, and a member of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute financial advisory committee. He was named the first Honorary Citizen of Queensland in 1980, and gained an honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle in 1981. On his retirement, Sir James observed that he was pleased to have started at the bottom. 'The view from there may be limited,' he said, 'but it is in the right direction.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of BHP Billiton 2003
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2003.99

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Dargie (age 68 in 1980)

Sir James McNeill CBE (age 64 in 1980)

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

Donated by

BHP Billiton (11 portraits)

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