Feriel Zerouki Becomes First Woman to Lead WDC
Zerouki took over as World Diamond Council president Monday, with Ronnie VanderLinden elected vice president.
She is the first woman to hold the position.
Born in the United Arab Emirates and of Algerian descent, Zerouki started her career in the diamond industry in 2005, working as a supply chain analyst at De Beers’ Diamond Trading Co. (DTC).
In 2009, the company appointed her Best Practice Principles manager, overseeing ethical standards for De Beers, its sightholders and contractors.
Zerouki became head of international relations in 2014, helping to initiate Tracr, De Beers’ blockchain platform, and GemFair, the program that supports artisanal and small-scale miners and mining operations.
She is now De Beers’ senior vice president of corporate affairs and serves on the board of directors for the Responsible Jewellery Council and, most recently, joined the board of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.
She holds degrees in mathematics and business management from Queen Mary University of London and is fluent in French, English and Arabic.
Zerouki was elected WDC vice president in 2020 and was set to become president in 2022 but the WDC’s directors opted to extend her term, and the terms of the other elected leaders, for another year due in part to the disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic caused.
Also on Monday, the WDC elected Ronnie VanderLinden vice president while Anoop Mehta was elected treasurer and Udi Sheintal was reappointed WDC secretary.
Per WDC bylaws, VanderLinden will take over as WDC president after Zerouki completes her two-year term.
The WDC serves as the representative of the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process (KP).
Next week, Zerouki will lead the WDC’s delegation in attending the five-day KP intersessional meeting at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. (Zimbabwe is the KP chair nation this year and thereby hosts both the intersessional and plenary meetings.)
The meeting is slated to begin Sunday.
Zerouki said as WDC president, she is committed to following in Asscher’s footsteps by acting with honesty and decency while also protecting the integrity of diamonds.
“I am committed to upholding these principles and in particular Edward’s consistent call not to leave anyone behind, which will remain a foundational principle of the WDC,” she said.
During his time heading the WDC, Asscher, the retired former president of the Royal Asscher Diamond Company, was consistent in his calls for the KP to expand the definition of what constitutes a “conflict” diamond, an issue that’s been a debate among members of the KP for more than a decade.
This year, the KP will enter a Review and Reform cycle, which Zerouki said is of “critical importance” as members of the KP must address what the process needs to do to adapt to a “much-changed and fast-evolved landscape.”
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