Karen Van Vuuren, CIPS Chair – in memoriam

We start today with some very sad news. Karen Van Vuuren, recent Chair of the CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) Board of Trustees and a distinguished procurement professional died this week after a long illness.

As well as her CIPS career, she was until recently the Chief Procurement Officer of Absa, one of South Africa's largest financial services institutes with 10 million customers and 40,000 staff. She was responsible for Group Sourcing practices for the bank with an annual spend of R14 billion. Karen previously worked in the area of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management (PSCM) Systems at Transnet, South Africa's rail, ports and pipelines State Owned Enterprise, the Gauteng Shared Service Centre (GSSC), a department of the Gauteng Provincial Government, and for iron and steel manufacturer Iscor, as well as for the South African Post Office.

I only really met her once properly, when I sat next to her at the CIPS Past Presidents and Council meeting two years ago. She was great company - highly intelligent, strong minded and interesting, and we had an excellent evening discussing various procurement and CIPS matters. I didn't realise how ill she was until the end of the evening when she needed help to get up and walk.

David Smith, last year's CIPS President, knew her better than I did having worked closely with her on CIPS matters for several years. Here's David.

"Karen Van Vuuren was one of the most dedicated, thoroughly professional, engaging business women I've ever met. I first met Karen in South Africa in 2005 and was immediately taken by her leadership skills and vast professional knowledge of procurement and business as well as her engaging manner and charm as a speaker. She would have an audience of hundreds hanging on every one of her words. She has given hugely to the profession and served as a member of the Board of Management and Board of Trustees including two years as Chair. She was truly a woman of Africa, who contributed so much to making procurement available there as a real profession of choice.  Our profession is a far poorer place without her".

We offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends, and I'm sure many other of her friends amongst the profession will do the same.

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Voices (2)

  1. David Atkinson:

    This is sad and still rather shocking news. I met Karen a couple of times, firstly at ABSA when 3 years ago I spent a week running an SRM programme for her team, and at last year’s dinner when indeed, despite being as ebullient as ever, she needed help to get around.

    I remember her as forthright and very business focused, whilst being charming and friendly. Gone too soon.

    1. Hanlie Smit:

      Thank you so much for all your wonderful words about my dearest sister. We all loved her so deeply and she was and will for ever be my inspiration to better myself.

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