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Diageo Makes Major Executive Changes, Naming New North America President And Global CMO

March 24, 2020

Diageo North America will come under new leadership July 1, as current president Deirdre Mahlan will retire on that date, to be replaced by Diageo board member Debra Crew. Crew will step down from the board to assume her new role.

Crew is the former president and CEO of Reynolds American, Inc., having previously served as president and COO and president and chief commercial officer of RJ Reynolds. Before joining Reynolds, Crew spent five years at PepsiCo, where she served as president, North America Nutrition; president, PepsiCo Americas Beverages; and president, Western Europe Region.

“Diageo North America is a strong business that has been very ably led by Deirdre since 2015,” said Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes. “While we are sad to be losing Deirdre, I know that she leaves a great legacy in the North America business and across Diageo.”

“Debra’s extensive experience in consumer businesses will serve Diageo and North America well as we continue to progress on our ambition to become one of the most trusted and respected consumer products companies in the world,” Menezes added.

Mahlan has helmed Diageo North America since 2015, and has been with Diageo for 19 years. During her tenure as president of the North America business, she oversaw solid growth for whisk(e)y brands like Crown Royal and Bulleit, and helped reshape the portfolio with some transformational deals, including most notably the $1 billion acquisition of Casamigos in 2017. In its fiscal first half through December, Diageo NA posted revenues up 6% on an organic basis to £2.5 billion ($3.3b), and operating profit up 5% to £1.1 billion ($1.4b). According to Impact Databank, Diageo’s U.S. business was up 0.5% to 36.9 million cases in calendar 2019.

Diageo has also named a new global CMO, Cristina Diezhandino, also effective July 1. Diezhandino replaces Syl Saller, who is retiring to focus on leadership development, executive coaching, and non-executive roles. She’s currently the company’s global category director for Scotch and managing director for Reserve.—Daniel Marsteller

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