Woman, American Take Top Seats in De Beers Shuffle

Varda Shine has been appointed managing director of the Diamond Trading Company, De Beers’ sales and marketing arm. She replaces Gareth Penny, who has become managing director of De Beers.

Shine is a rare woman in De Beers’ upper echelons. She was born in Israel—also rare in a company whose executives traditionally hail from either the United Kingdom or South Africa.

In addition, longtime DTC marketing guru Stephen Lussier has been appointed director of external and corporate affairs for De Beers. This post involves media relations and dealing with governments and other stakeholders—a job that has become extremely important as De Beers faces increasing political pressure in its home base of Africa.

Lussier’s pedigree is also a bit unusual for De Beers—he was born in the United States and got his start working at De Beers’ then-U.S. ad agency, N.W. Ayer. But he is also a member by marriage of the Oppenheimer family, which controls the company; he’s the son-in-law of Anthony Oppenheimer, the cousin of current chairman Nicky Oppenheimer.