Sam Walsh, CEO, Rio Tinto © Press Association Images
Sam Walsh, CEO, Rio Tinto © Press Association Images

Sam Walsh to retire as Rio Tinto CEO

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
17 March 2016

Rio Tinto has announced its chief executive Sam Walsh will retire on 1 July.

He will be replaced by the head of the mining company’s copper and coal division Jean-Sébastien Jacques. Jacques will join the board and become the company’s deputy chief executive immediately.

Walsh, who began his career as a trainee buyer at General Motors in his native Australia, said: “I have been seriously fortunate to lead one of the world’s best companies. After 25 great and enjoyable years with Rio Tinto, now is the right time to pass the reins on to Jean-Sébastien.

“I am very proud to have played my part, together with all of our employees around the world, in returning Rio Tinto to a position of industry leadership and strength. I have always wanted to make a difference and I believe we have achieved that.”

Walsh cut more than $6bn of costs while at the mining firm.

In 2013 he was the recipient of the CIPS Award for CEO Procurement Champion. When asked how procurement could get the attention of senior management, he advised: “It all comes back to delivering value. People need to understand what drives the business and how they can deliver value and physically help the business succeed. That’s the most important thing anyone in the company can do but particularly people in purchasing.

“A business doesn’t operate because of a CEO: a business operates because of a team that is all working to achieve a common end. Purchasing people need to get close to their internal customers and ensure they excel at what they do.”

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