Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto Ltd
What makes one person an effective leader? Not just within their sector, but commercially and throughout the community as well. How do they juggle the constant demands successfully and with positive results?
Sam Walsh was appointed chief executive of Rio Tinto’s extensive Iron Ore group in 2004. His responsibilities cover operations and projects in Australia, Canada, Guinea and India, as well as Dampier Salt and Rio Tinto Marine. He has overseen the rapid expansion of this group - more than US$7 billion has been spent on mine expansions and major infrastructure developments since 2004 and in 2009 net earnings were more than US$4 billion.
In June 2009, Sam was appointed as an executive director to the boards of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Limited, and in November 2009, chief executive of Rio Tinto Australia. He is also the RioTinto ExCo sponsor for Australia, India and West Africa.
Sam is the nominated initial chairman of the non-executive owners’ council of the proposed Rio Tinto production joint venture with BHP Billiton, involving the companies’ respective ironore assets in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Sam has been with Rio Tinto since 1991. Prior to joining the Iron Ore group, he held a number of management positions within Rio Tinto, including chief executive of the Aluminium group.
Before joining Rio Tinto, Sam spent 20 years in the automotive industry and held senior roles with General Motors and Nissan Australia. Sam has a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University and has completed a Fellowship Program at Kettering University in Michigan. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Chartered Institute ofPurchasing and Supply.
Sam’s other appointments include non-executive director of West Australian Newspapers Holdings Limited, a vice president of the Australia-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, chair of Black Swan State Theatre Company, chair of the WA Chapter of the Australian Business Arts Foundation and chair of the Rio Tinto WA Future Fund. Sam is also patron of the State Library of Western Australia Foundation and a patron of the UWA Hackett Foundation.
In 2010, in recognition of his distinguished contribution to business and to the community, Sam was appointed as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia and awarded an Honorary Doctor of Commerce by Edith Cowan University. In 2007 Sam was named Western Australian Citizen of the Year - Industry & Commerce and an Australian Export Hero.
Sam and his wife Leanne reside in Perth, Western Australia. Sam has three children: Ben, Carolyn and Tom.