During his time in the top role at Rio Tinto, Walsh and his team removed more than $6bn of costs and returned more than $13bn to shareholders
During his time in the top role at Rio Tinto, Walsh and his team removed more than $6bn of costs and returned more than $13bn to shareholders

Sam Walsh is new CIPS president

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
2 November 2016

Sam Walsh, who this summer retired as Rio Tinto’s CEO, has now taken up the tenure of CIPS president.

Walsh, who held the top job at the mining giant for the past three years, sat on its board for the past seven and was with the business for 25 years, now hopes to use his position and influence to grow the profile of procurement.

“Procurement has always been an area of fascination for me,” he told SM. “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.

“There are all sorts of areas in addition to lower purchasing costs (anti-slavery, cyber security and so on) where a trained purchasing professional can add a lot of value.

“In a changing world there’s a need for procurement to be aligned with company strategy. Nowadays businesses are looking at the value in use of what’s purchased, not just the initial purchase price. Capital cost, operating cost, maintenance costs, productivity... business wants to optimise all its expenses.”

For three years Walsh headed up a 55,000-strong workforce at the 140-year-old company, which operates in more than 40 countries and in 2015 had a turnover of $34.83bn and underlying profit of $4.5bn.

During his time in the top role, Walsh and his team removed more than $6bn of costs and returned more than $13bn to shareholders.

  • Read the full interview in the next issue of Supply Management

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