Chatham House picks ex-Goldman economist O’Neill as chairman

Chatham House, the international British think-tank at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, has elected an economist, Jim O’Neill, as its new chairman.

O’Neill, who was chief economist at Goldman Sachs from 2001 to 2010, has previous roles as joint head of research at Goldman Sachs (1995–2000), and chairman of its asset management division (2010–13); and served as commercial secretary to the British Treasury (2015-16)

A BRIC by any other name
Lord O’Neill is also known for having coined the widely-used acronym BRIC (to refer to the leading emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China). Also, to help differentiate between groups of emerging markets, O’Neill named Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey as the comparably-developed “MINT” grouping.

In the post of chair, O’Neill will lead the council in overseeing the operations and performance of the institute as well as contribute his substantial experience to support its mission to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

O’Neill welcomed the opportunity to lead the board of what he called, “an institution that I greatly respect and that I believe will play a highly important role in the future.

He described Chatham House as uniquely combining “the capacity to convene leading thinkers and practitioners on international affairs alongside deep knowledge on how to confront some of the most intractable global challenges of our time.”

Toward 100
As Chatham House approaches the centenary of its founding in 2020, he will also work closely with council members, the institute’s supporters and its director, Robin Niblett, to ensure that the institute continues to be at the forefront of debate, analysis and new ideas on the most critical issues in international affairs.

O’Neill will take over from Stuart Popham QC, who has served six years in the post, after the institute’s AGM in July 2018. The selection was undertaken by a search committee led by Sir Simon Fraser, vice chair of Council and chair of the nominations committee, working alongside MWM Consulting.

Popham said: “I am delighted that members of the Chatham House Council have unanimously elected Jim O’Neill to be my successor as chair. Jim brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role, which will stand him in good stead in leading the council. As Chatham House consolidates its position after several years of growth and moves towards the historic celebration of its centenary, he is well-placed to advise the executive team on how best to leverage its strengths and build for the future.”

‘One of the world’s the most perceptive analysts’
Chatham House’s director, Robin Niblett said: “Jim O’Neill is one of the world’s the most perceptive analysts and thinkers about the global economy. His appointment as chair-elect of Chatham House coincides with a period when many of the structures and principles that have supported global growth and buttressed peace are under threat.

“We are fortunate that an individual of Jim’s calibre will help guide the institute during this period of profound change and enable us to engage even more intensively with our many constituencies around the world.”

Popham steps down after two three-year terms as the institute’s chair during which time Chatham House has broadened its areas of research, including the establishment of the Hoffmann Centre on Sustainable Resource Economy.

Christopher Copper-Ind
Christopher Copper-Ind is Publisher and Editor of International Investment. His previous publishing experience focused largely on the Middle East and emerging markets, and he was Editorial Director of The Business Year, based in Istanbul, for three years before moving back to London in 2017. He is the author of How to Negotiate, to be published by Macmillan in 2019.

Read more from Christopher Copper-Ind

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