Mondelez CEO Dirk Van de Put A “Golden Opportunity”

After what one board member called a “thorough, multi-year succession process,” Irene Rosenfeld retired as CEO of the $26 billion Mondelēz International snack company, effective November 20. To replace her, the board went outside the company to Dirk Van de Put, the CEO of McCain Foods, the $7.3 billion (USD) Canadian potato-products company. Rosenfeld will stay on as chairman until March 2018, when Van de Put will assume that role as well.

Van de Put is No. 109 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of top 1,000 CEOs of public and private companies.

Rosenfeld’s leadership of the company spanned 11 years, first as CEO of Kraft Foods Group, then as CEO of its successor, Mondelēz. Mondelēz was created when Rosenfeld engineered the spinoff of Kraft’s grocery business. The remaining company was focused on the snack business—and brands such as Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers—and renamed Mondelēz.

During Rosenfeld’s tenure, the company—like so many others in the food industry—ran into rapidly changing consumer tastes and a shift toward healthier eating. The company saw declining sales and earnings over the years—and in mid-2017, it took another hit from a cyber attack that disrupted shipping and invoicing for several days.

“The company’s board took the time to conduct a careful search—and find someone who brings a breadth of relevant experience and seems to be especially suited to the role.”—RHR INTERNATIONAL

Van de Put’s resumé includes roles at Novartis, Groupe Danone, Coca Cola and Mars, followed by six years as CEO of privately held McCain, which sells frozen French fries, potato specialties and appetizers in more than 160 countries. “The company’s board took the time to conduct a careful search—and find someone who brings a breadth of relevant experience and seems to be especially suited to the role,” says Simon Callow, a senior partner at RHR International.

Van de Put’s international experience appears to be a particularly good fit with Mondelēz’ focus on markets outside the U.S. “He is a seasoned global CEO, having lived and worked on three different continents, with deep experience and expertise in all critical business and commercial operations in both emerging and developed markets,” Rosenfeld noted in a statement.

Van de Put’s track record in sales is presumably welcome, as well. During his time at McCain, he grew net sales by more than 50 percent, generating more than 75 percent of that growth organically. By turning his sales strengths to international markets, said one Credit Suisse analyst, Van de Put has “a golden opportunity to breathe new life into Mondelēz.”

Peter Haapaniemi
Peter is a longtime business writer and editor whose work has appeared in a variety of publications and outlets. A former editor at a B2B custom-publishing company, he has written on topics including technology, leadership, energy, finance, management, intellectual property and legal issues in business, among others.

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