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48. Paul Walsh

paul walsh
Age 66
Occupation Executive Chairman, McLaren Group
Nationality British
Position Last Year New

Paul Walsh is Executive Chairman of luxury automotive, motorsport and technology company McLaren Group.

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Paul brings a wealth of business experience to McLaren having been Chief Executive Officer of FTSE 100 listed drinks company Diageo for 13 years having spent over three decades in total with the company.

He was previously Chairman of Compass Group PLC, the world’s leading contract catering company and a major support services provider operating in around 50 countries while employing over 500,000 people.

Previously, Paul Walsh was Chief Executive of Diageo plc from September 2000 to 30 June 2013. Paul joined GrandMet’s brewing division in 1982 and became Finance Director in 1986. He held financial and commercial positions with Inter-Continental Hotels and in the GrandMet food business, becoming CEO of The Pillsbury Company in 1992.

Paul was appointed to the GrandMet Board in October 1995 and to the Diageo Board in December 1997. Paul is also a non-executive director of FedEx Corporation and McDonald’s Corporation.

Paul Walsh was described by Philippe Naughton in The Times as “tall, paunchy, balding and thickset…[with] a burly confidence that exudes from every pore…a bluff Mancunian whose blokeish humour masks a fiercely competitive nature”. Walsh claims to lead a “relatively modest” life that is dominated by work. At Diageo, he spent around half of his time in various foreign countries, totalling over 5 million air miles.

Walsh met Manchester-born Nicolette (Nikki) in London in 1978. They married in 1980 and have a son, Dean Paul Walsh. They separated in 2006.

In October 2012 it was reported that Walsh was engaged to marry his long-term girlfriend Julie Lewis, a public relations executive, and they married in May 2013.

Paul Walsh is one of the highest-paid businessmen in Britain, earning £11.2 million between June 2011 and June 2012 from his work at Diageo. He lives near Horsham in West Sussex. He holds a minority stake in a 2,400-acre (970 ha) game ranch in South Africa, where he enjoys big game hunting.

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