David Noble – Shock, Sadness and Sympathy As CIPS CEO Passes Away

Everybody who has any involvement with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), and many who don’t, will be shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of CIPS CEO, David Noble. After a very short illness – and only those closest to him realised how serious it was – he passed away on Friday in hospital. Our sincere commiserations and sympathies go to Jenny (his wife), their daughter, other family and close friends, and indeed his CIPS colleagues.

David was originally from North Yorkshire, was still a Middlesbrough fan, and was an apparently fit, healthy, active man. He was just 60 years old, which makes this even more shocking. Indeed, one of his strengths through his almost 8 years as CEO at CIPS has been his drive and energy, travelling globally to spread the CIPS message in Africa, China, the Middle East and elsewhere, working tirelessly for the Institute.

His background and experience as a supply chain and procurement director in large firms such as IMI and Novar stood him in good stead when he took over the CIPS CEO role. He was the first procurement professional to hold that position, and he demonstrated beyond doubt that CPOs could step up and become highly successful CEOs, combining a depth of professional procurement knowledge with wider business ability.

His achievements have been considerable, and he has been instrumental in CIPS becoming without a doubt the leading procurement institute in the world. When I came to the end of my close involvement with CIPS some 12 years ago, CIPS and ISM (the US equivalent) were neck and neck; now CIPS is miles ahead in terms of revenue, membership and global reputation, and that is down to David more than any other factor.

His drive, integrity, common sense and commitment has made CIPS a far more professional and business-like organisation, and he was highly credible in his dealings with senior business people, politicians and others he came in contact with regularly. He could be direct in his comments, but you always got the feeling that supporting and developing the procurement profession and CIPS members were absolutely at the forefront of his thinking and actions.

It is not the time to talk about those areas where we disagreed, but in private his thinking was much more nuanced than sometimes appeared from his public pronouncements (a dry sense of humour also emerged in those moments too). And his messages – about the importance of procurement, the need for education, his consistent support for causes such as the campaign against modern slavery, came from both deeply held personal beliefs and his desire to do the best possible job he could for CIPS, its members, clients and the wider community.

I am sure CIPS will find a way to remember David appropriately, and recognise both his business achievements and his contribution and commitment to the profession he worked in for virtually his whole working life. But really, at this time we can only again express sadness and shock, and offer our heartfelt sympathy to those close to him.

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