Keith Henry Walley: 1987—1988

Keith Henry Walley: 1987—1988

Born in June 1923, Keith Walley, the son of a policeman and the first of his family to reach university, gained scholarships first to Hinckley Grammar School and then Loughborough College in 1946. At Loughborough he studied chemistry and then went on to complete two years' national service in the Ordnance Corps. He was commissioned while in the army and almost stayed on, but eventually decided to look elsewhere to pursue a career.

Having opted for chemical engineering he went back to Loughborough to study the subject on a one year diploma course. At the end of the course he was offered a job by both Shell and ICI, with Shell being the company to secure his services, mainly because they offered him a research post.

He spent six years in Holland, firstly in Amsterdam and then The Hague, before returning to the UK for two years in 1955, where he was involved in the start up on some of the installations at Carrington. Returning to The Hague in 1957 he was responsible for design and project development as technical manager of Shell International's chemical licencing activities.

In 1966 Keith Walley was sent back to Carrington to take over the operation of the polymer plants - his first major operating responsibility. There had been a heavy expansion phase at the site and there were a number of problems, not only with the plants themselves but also with the work force where there were three strikes in 18 months. The first real downturn in petrochemicals came when he was Works Manager at Carrington but then as Shell re-structured and a new set of opportunities opened in The Hague, he moved back to The Netherlands as General Manager of base chemicals.

From this role he was then put into overall control of the UK company as Managing Director of both Shell UK and Shell Chemicals UK.

It was while in this top position that Keith Walley decided to end his 32 year association with Shell and took early retirement, building a new career for himself as Chairman of International Military Services, Deputy Chairman of Johnson Matthey, non-executive director of Reckitt & Colman, and an active visiting professor at University College London.

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