De Beers Goes Way Outside the Box

With Edahn Golan’s column
about the new De Beers CEO this week, the cat is slipping even further out of
the bag about the gentleman’s identity, even if the appointment hasn’t been officially announced yet, and may not be for a while.

The apparent decision to select a chief executive from a
French car company as the head of the world’s most important diamond producer harkens back to the period, just a few years ago, when De
Beers seemed intent on recruiting people from outside the trade—after decades of basically being run by DTC “lifers” who began their
careers in the jungles of Africa. 

But this time around, people expected that if
De Beers went “outside” for a leader, it would get someone with a mining or
luxury background. There were internal candidates too. Recruiting someone from
a French transportation firm is thinking way outside the box. And, no offense to the person in question, it struck many people I spoke to as kind of puzzling.

If this were the 1990s, this would be a welcome sign that
the company was being “shaken up.” But De Beers been shaken and stirred so much
in the years since then that many now feel that what it needs is stability—and
a clear path for the future. Hopefully, that is something the new CEO will

Nicky Oppenheimer has made some pretty bold moves over the
years, and it seems he has taken another huge gamble. It will be fascinating
seeing if it pays off.

UPDATE: It’s official

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