Philippe Mellier’s route to the top at De Beers
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When De Beers was looking for a new chief executive in 2011, the most obvious qualification that Philippe Mellier had for the job was probably “outsider”. The world’s best-known diamond miner wanted to bring in a leader with a fresh perspective to prepare it for a new era. In Mellier — with 30 years in cars, trucks and trains behind him — the headhunters certainly found one. The 60-year-old Frenchman, then working at French industrial group Alstom, recalls plenty of industry scepticism about whether someone with no experience of diamonds or mining could sparkle in the role. Four years later, he has gone through big changes — including De Beers’ ultimate ownership — and has embraced the mystique of the world’s most coveted gemstones.