After 34 years of service, former managing director and director, Gary Ralfe, retired from the Board of De Beers s.a. at its meeting in Luxembourg Tuesday. Ralfe is credited with implementing some of the major changes at De Beers and across the diamond industry.
The following tribute has been penned by Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers:
“Gary and I have worked in close partnership for almost my entire professional life. Both as MD and as a director, Gary’s energy, drive, dedication and loyalty to the Company, and the values for which it stands, have been essential ingredients in its continuing success.
“Gary will be remembered for his unflagging search for innovation and continuous improvement in the way we organize our business, and for the invaluable role he played in guiding the restructuring of De Beers – including our conversion from a supply to a demand driven business, and in the privatization of the company.
“As MD, Gary was largely responsible for an historic chapter in the development of the De Beers Family of Companies. He has continued to lend his council as a member of the De Beers sa board and he will, I am sure, continue to take a keen interest as we strive to meet the goals we have set for De Beers.
“On behalf of the board and the employees of the De Beers Family of Companies, I wish Gary and Marie-France a long and happy retirement.”
Ralfe was educated at Michaelhouse School before going to Cambridge University. He joined Anglo American Corp. in 1966 and served the corporation in South Africa, Australia, and France. In 1974 he started working in what was known as the Diamond Section of the Chairman’s Office at 44 Main Street, Johannesburg.
Since then, with the exception of a brief interlude between 1983 and 1985 as secretary to the executive committee of Anglo, his life has been devoted to the diamond industry. He spent five years in Antwerp and, in January 1986, was transferred to the then Central Selling Organisation in London.
Ralfe served as a director of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited from March 1990 to May 2006 and was also deputy chairman of DBCM from May 2004 to April 2006.
He became managing director of the CSO in January 1994 and, at the beginning of 1998 was appointed managing director of De Beers globally. Ralfe retired in February 2006, but continued to serve as a non-executive director of De Beers SA. He also served as a director of De Beers Centenary AG from May 1990 to May 2005 and as MD of that company from May 2000 to May 2005.