Heads of finance, marketing, R&D leaving at month’s end

Kraft Foods’ new CEO shakes up management team

By Heidi Parsons contact

- Last updated on GMT

This image from Kraft Foods' website reflects big changes afoot.
This image from Kraft Foods' website reflects big changes afoot.

Related tags: Kraft, Management occupations

Under new CEO John Cahill, Kraft Foods Group has announced new roles for two top executives and the imminent departure of the company’s current heads of finance, marketing, and R&D.

Company officials said the changes “reflect Kraft's commitment to accelerating the pace of change and improving execution, and will support the development of a plan that puts the company on a clear path to long-term sustainable growth.”

Effective immediately, George Zoghbi, who is currently vice chairman of Operations, R&D, Sales and Strategy, has been named chief operating officer (COO). In addition, the head of Kraft's Canada business unit, Chris Kempczinski, has been promoted to executive VP of Growth Initiatives and president of Kraft’s International business.

Three top executives will leave Kraft at the end of February, officials said. Those executives are Teri List-Stoll, chief financial officer (CFO); Deanie Elsner, chief marketing officer (CMO); and Chuck Davis, executive VP of Research, Development, Quality and Innovation.

2014 ‘difficult and disappointing’

Cahill, who was already chairman of Kraft’s board of directors, replaced former Kraft CEO Tony Vernon in December 2014. In an earnings call yesterday, Cahill said, “On the whole, I think you'd agree that 2014 for Kraft, and for that matter, the broader food industry, was both difficult and disappointing.”

“While our disposition may be encouraging, it's clear that our world has changed, and our consumers have changed,”​ he added. “But our company has not changed enough, and certainly has not kept pace.”

Kraft Foods image accompanying 2-12-2015 Facebook post
Kraft Foods posted this image on Facebook on February 12 to signal its new direction.

Cahill indicated he expects the leadership shake-up to change the company’s fortunes going forward. "I am excited to work with the management team as we continue to build a stronger Kraft and fulfill our potential as the industry leader,”​ he said. “Together, we will chart a course of innovation and brand rejuvenation that is built on clear strategy and efficient operations."

In finance, List-Stoll will continue to serve as a senior advisor to ensure a smooth transition, Kraft officials said. Until a new CFO is appointed, the finance function will report directly to Cahill.

In marketing, Jane Hilk, Kraft executive VP and president of Enhancers & Snack Nuts, has been appointed interim CMO. “A senior marketing executive will be named in due course to continue developing and enhancing Kraft's marketing capabilities and will report to Zoghbi,” ​officials said.

Outgoing R&D leader Davis will remain with Kraft and report to Zoghbi until a successor is named, according to the company.

Leading the charge

Kraft officials Zoghbi and Kempczinski
Kraft Foods has promoted George Zoghbi (left) and Chris Kempczinski to new roles.

As COO, Zoghbi will oversee Kraft's US business units “and the teams that drive growth across Kraft, including sales and marketing services,​” company officials said.

He will also continue to lead Kraft's integrated supply chain. He will work across all operations to make appropriate investment decisions, drive productivity and deliver strong execution of the company's innovation and brand marketing plans, officials said.

In his newly created position as EVP of Growth Initiatives and president of International, Kempczinski is charged with working closely with Zoghbi to “formulate strategy, including mergers and acquisitions, and develop and deploy innovation platforms for Kraft's sustainable growth,”​ officials said. Kempczinski will also continue to lead Kraft Canada.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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