Sam Walsh says procurement has always been of interest to him
Sam Walsh says procurement has always been of interest to him

Former Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh named next CIPS president

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
29 July 2016

The former head of global mining giant Rio Tinto, Sam Walsh, is to become CIPS President from November.

Making the announcement by video message to delegates at the CIPS Australasia Conference in Melbourne, group CEO of CIPS, David Noble, said: “I’d like to share with you some exciting news about the coming year. From the 1 November 2016, it will be my pleasure to welcome Sam Walsh, former CEO of Rio Tinto, as CIPS president.

“As most of you will know, Sam rose to the position of CEO after starting his career in procurement. He is a proud fellow of the institute and looking forward to taking on this exciting role.”

Walsh, who retired on 1 July after seven years as a board director and a quarter of a century with the business, told SM: “Procurement has always been an area of interest for me. I’m hoping to use my profile to leverage increased interest in the profession and institute and make company CEOs aware of the value a top-notch purchasing organisation can bring.”

Walsh began his career as a trainee buyer at General Motors in his native Australia. While leading Rio Tinto, he and his team cut more than $6bn of costs and returned more than $13bn to shareholders. In 2013 he received the CIPS Award for CEO Procurement Champion.

Walsh said procurement and supply professionals can grab the attention of senior management by “delivering value and helping it to physically succeed”. He said: “A business doesn’t operate because of a CEO, it operates because of a team that is working to achieve a common end. Purchasing people need to get close to their internal customers and ensure they excel at what they do.”

Walsh has also said procurement plays a key role in delivering innovation. Speaking at the CIPS Annual Dinner in 2015, he told attendees: “Innovation is something that’s incredibly important in our business. Who helps us with that? It’s suppliers of one colour or another and you are the opening for that.”

  • A full interview with Sam Walsh will appear in a future edition of Supply Management
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