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Sam Walsh AO (WA)


Sam Walsh was Rio Tinto chief executive from January 2013 to July 2016, the culmination of a 25-year career with the international mining group.

Prior to his appointment as chief executive, he led a number of Rio Tinto’s product groups including Aluminium (2001-2004) and Iron Ore (2004-2013) and in 2009 he joined the Rio Tinto board as a director.

Sam started his career in the automotive industry, working for 20 years in senior leadership roles with General Motors and Nissan Australia.

Sam has played a key role in charity, community and business associations in Australia and the United Kingdom.  In recognition of his distinguished service to the mining industry and the community of Western Australia, Sam was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2010.

A strong supporter of the arts, Sam was awarded honorary life membership of the Western Australian Chamber of Arts and Culture and made a patron of the Western Australian State Theatre.  In 2014 he was appointed a Trustee of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation.

Sam’s keen interest in supporting international trade led to his membership in 2014 of the B20 Australian Leadership Group and his appointment in 2015 as co-chair of the Australia-India CEO Forum.

In 2012, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Australian Institute of Company Directors and between 2008 and 2013 he was a director of Australia’s largest diversified media company, Seven West Media.

Sam is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and was previously a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University and has completed a Fellowship Program at Kettering University in Michigan.

Sam is married to Leanne. He has three children and four grandchildren.