JCK’s 2003 Person of the Year: Gareth Penny

Gareth Penny is a different kind of De Beers executive. Where predecessors talked mostly about mining, allocations, and international politics, Penny, 41, is drawn more toward brands and jewelry and the latest in diamond ads. He's candid where they were cagey, approachable where they were intimidating, and forward thinking in a company steeped in tradition. So it's not surprising that he's been instrumental in turning De Beers into a different kind of company. In 1999, Penny, then 36, was tapped to run De Beers' "strategic review." The yearlong review ultimately brought about the strategy known as Supplier of Choice (known internally as SOC, pronounced like the footwear). Along the way Penny has become Supplier of Choice's chief salesman, mouthpiece, and lighting rod. He's pitched the policy to everyone from industry to the European Union—and soon, maybe, the U.S. Justice Departmen
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