Chennai: India-born British and American business executive, Sir Ivan Manuel Menezes, the Chief Executive Officer of global liquor major Diageo plc, died on Wednesday after a brief illness, the company said.
Born on July 10, 1959, in Pune, Ivan held UK and US citizenships, as well as Overseas Citizenship for India. He was hospitalised in London recently for stomach ulcer.
“Over the weekend, we learned that Ivan’s recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer,” Diageo said on Monday while appointing Debra Crew as the company’s interim CEO.
Knighted by the British government in January 2023, Ivan was supposed to retire from the Board of Diageo that makes Johnny Waler and Guinness on June 30, 2023.
“This is an incredibly sad day. Ivan was undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation,” said Javier FerrAin, Chairman, Diageo.
“Ivan was there at the creation of Diageo and over 25 years, shaped Diageo to become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer companies. I saw first-hand his steadfast commitment to our people and to creating a culture that enabled everyone to thrive. He invested his time and energy in people at every level of the company and saw potential that others may have overlooked. This is one of many reasons why he was beloved by our employees, past and present,” Ferran said.
According to Ferran, their thoughts are with Ivan’s wife Shibani and his two children Nikhil and Rohini.
“On behalf of the Board, Executive Committee and all our employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to them,” Ferran said.
Interestingly Ivan belongs to a family of Chairman and CEOs of large organisations.
While Ivan was the CEO of Diageo, his brother Victor Menzes is the former Chairman and CEO of CitiBank and their father Manuel Menezes was the Chairman of the Indian Railway Board.
Ivan studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
According to Diageo, Ivan joined the company at its creation in 1997 and held many senior positions in a career spanning over 25 years at the company. He had been the Strategy Director for Guinness plc. When Diageo was subsequently created through the merger, Ivan was appointed Group Integration Director tasked with integrating this ‘merger of equals’.
He became Global Marketing Director, UDV, in 1998 and was responsible for developing the now iconic, ‘Keep Walking’ campaign for Johnnie Walker.
He subsequently held several senior positions in Diageo including Chief Operating Officer; President, Diageo North America; Chairman, Diageo Asia Pacific; and Chairman, Diageo Latin America and Caribbean.
Ivan was appointed to the board as an Executive Director of Diageo in July 2012 and served as Chief Executive Officer since July 2013. He was due to retire on June 30, 2023.
During his decade as CEO, Diageo made huge strides towards his ambition that the company should become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected companies in the world.
Now selling over 200 brands in more than 180 markets, today Diageo is the number one company by net sales value in Scotch whisky, vodka, gin, rum, Canadian whisky, liqueurs, and also tequila, a category in which only eight years ago the company had no substantive position.
Ivan was an inspirational champion for both women and ethnic minorities in business. In 2008 there were no women on Diageo’s Executive Committee, today over half are women, including his successor as CEO, the CFO and the Presidents of Diageo’s largest Markets — North America, Europe and India, and almost half of the Executive Committee are ethnically diverse.
Over 40 per cent of the senior leadership positions globally are held by women, while 37 per cent are ethnically diverse, well on the way to achieve gender parity in senior leadership and 45 per cent of our leadership to be ethnically diverse by 2025, Diageo said.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Diageo produced more than 10 million bottles of hand sanitiser for healthcare workers around the world, including the NHS — with the Secretary of State for Health commenting that “Diageo rode to the rescue” when supplies were low.
Ivan had a long involvement with the Pratham charity as an ongoing donor. Pratham is a charity which promotes literacy and provides education to underprivileged children in India.
Ivan is a Non-Executive Director of Tapestry Inc.; Chairman of the Council of The Scotch Whisky Association; and a member of the Global Advisory Board at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.
Prior to his career with Diageo, Ivan worked across a variety of sales, marketing and strategy roles for Whirlpool in Europe, Booz Allen & Hamilton in North America, and Nestle in Asia.