A Tragic and Often Difficult Year for CIPS – Key Appointments to Come in 2018

It was a turbulent year for CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply). The tragic and unexpected death of David Noble, the Chief Executive at the beginning of the year came as a huge shock to everyone, and still seems quite hard to take in – someone so energetic and vital  just gone like that. We paid our tributes here. As we said:

“His drive, integrity, common sense and commitment has made CIPS a far more professional and business-like organisation, and he was highly credible in his dealings with senior business people, politicians and others he came in contact with regularly. He could be direct in his comments, but you always got the feeling that supporting and developing the procurement profession and CIPS members were absolutely at the forefront of his thinking and actions …

I am sure CIPS will find a way to remember David appropriately, and recognise both his business achievements and his contribution and commitment to the profession he worked in for virtually his whole working life. But really, at this time we can only again express sadness and shock, and offer our heartfelt sympathy to those close to him”.

Then we had the issues at Rio Tinto, the global mining firm, which was accused of paying fees to a consultant who was close to the President of Guinea – Rio Tinto were hoping to acquire mining rights in the country. The president of CIPS Sam Walsh, was caught up in this issue as one of three executives who were involved in approving and making the payments.

We felt Walsh should resign from his CIPS post but he didn’t, and he went on to make a good speech at the annual dinner - there is no doubt that he is personally impressive man. However, astonishingly given the wider situation, he became the first CIPS President to be given a two-year term. We still don’t understand why and as far as we can see, his involvement with the Institute, certainly as far as the average European member sees it, has been pretty limited compared to recent Presidents.

“…we discovered that Sam Walsh is continuing as President for a second year. This is the first time ever that a President has served a two-year term. Walsh didn’t bother with any of that “apprenticeship” either – he just floated straight in as President a year ago.

There are two issues here that trouble me. The first is the wisdom of Walsh as President and the second the process for the decision making and its communication. Let’s start with the second. Frankly, I find it somewhat insulting to CIPS members that there was no communication to tell us that this important decision had been made and that Walsh was going to continue … We asked CIPS about this and the answer was that “this is not necessarily something we would formerly announce to the membership as it’s a continuation but there will be a story included in forthcoming member communications”.

Well, it might be a continuation for Walsh, but it is a break with the way this has worked since CIPS first started, and it is significant change in governance of the Institute. We have yet to see any explanation to members as to the logic behind the extended term in office either, and I am curious about the actual benefits of a two-year term”.

CIPS appears to go from strength to strength in terms of financial results, and we hope Walsh proves his presidential worth in the last ten months of his extended tenure. But the Institute needs to get the next two key appointments right – the new CEO (to replace Gerry Walsh, who has done a typically capable role as the interim leader) and the next President. A European woman would be the ideal choice, we’d suggest, as we have had  blokes for the past five  years and four of those five years a non-European has been in charge. We could suggest a few if anyone is interested ...

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First Voice

  1. The Lady Doth Protest:

    I don’t think the CIPS presidency makes any difference to average CIPS members.

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