A Big Offer in Big Food, Irene Rosenfeld Retires From Mondelēz

Ms. Rosenfeld has retained up with the approach toward globalization, shifting from america and European countries and into emerging marketplaces like Asia and Latin America, and presenting some healthier options.

Along the way, she tangled with the British government, Warren Buffett and hedge fund activists incorporating William A. Ackman and Nelson Peltz – not to mention the groups advocating for healthier foods in a much more health-conscious era.

By many measures, she was powerful. Through acquisitions, spinoffs, disposals and dividends, she made billions of dollars for shareholders and a lot of money for herself.

“She has focused on building shareholder value successfully by increasing margins without dewy-eyed nostalgia above changing conditions,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale Institution of Management. “She is an honorable innovator who has survived an industry going through wrenching switch and pressure from tough, vocal short-term activists.”

Ms. Rosenfeld was richly rewarded on her behalf work. In her 11 years as C.E.O. – to begin Kraft Foods and today of Mondelēz – she’s made about $231 million, relating to Equilar. That will not include her compensation before 2006, or a retirement package, but to be released, that will surely be worth many millions more.

But as consumer preferences switch, millennials are embracing upstart makes. Health concerns over processed food items are on the rise. Mondelēz sales were falling until the provider reported an uptick previous month, and the share has barely budged in the last year.

Ms. Rosenfeld and the business say it was her decision to stage down. “I’ve been performing this for over ten years,” Ms. Rosenfeld said. “Since I announced my pension, I’ve been sleeping better.”

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But the plank was ready for switch and began looking on her behalf replacement in the planting season. Dirk Van de Set, head of frozen foodstuff maker McCain Foods, will take over Mondelēz, departing one fewer woman at the helm of a significant company.

“It’s painful on her behalf to keep,” said Lois Juliber, who is on the plank of Mondelēz. “I’m not sure she feels as though she feels like the work is done yet.”

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Ms. Rosenfeld grew up on Very long Island and visited school at Cornell, where she performed basketball and attained advanced degrees running a business, and marketing and statistics.

After school, she visited work for an advertising firm, and then in 1981 joined Basic Foods, which made Oscar Mayer meats and Maxwell House coffee. General Foods was acquired by cigarette maker Philip Morris in 1989, which at that time also owned Kraft.

As her duties expanded to overseeing buyer exploration, beverages and desserts, she learned some key lessons that would inform her career.

For just one, she said, it was vital that you invest and innovate, which wasn’t easy as a subsidiary of a cigarette maker when tobacco manufacturers were paying big settlements for health related lawsuits. “The parent provider was pressuring the food business to deliver cash,” she said.

But maybe the most important truth she came to understand was an apparent one: People prefer to eat cookies. They prefer to eat chips. They prefer to snack.

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“It’s an exceptionally impulse-driven group of products, so intake is expandable,” she stated. “The more displays we would set up in a retailer such as this, the more items we would sell.”

But with those sales successes came the undesirable connotations associated with peddling “junk foodstuff’’ to a country of consumers who all increasingly sought out healthier and fresher options. Noting that “there is an accelerating interest in well-being everywhere in the world,” Ms. Rosenfeld stated Mondelēz took the issue seriously, removing genetically modified ingredients from Triscuits, offering resealable plans of Oreos and presenting relatively healthy makes like Véa, a new biscuit line.

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Kraft went public in 2001 and Ms. Rosenfeld ran the Canadian organization, the operations group, and, by 2002, all of North America.

But the higher she rose, the fewer girls there were by her area. Ms. Rosenfeld stated she did knowledge sexism face to face, but declined to provide details.

“I grew up in the industry at the same time when there weren’t that many women and in key positions,” she said. “There was always a impression that we needed to work simply a little harder, and we’d to stand up for ourselves in the face of managers who weren’t as respectful because they ought to have been.”

Ms. Rosenfeld stated she idea her athleticism gave her an edge, and that men were impressed that she could generally defeat them at tennis and golf during provider retreats. “I held my own in a lot of these corporate outings,” she stated. “I was included with a sharply honed competitive instinct.”

In the wake of a flurry of sexual harassment revelations in the business world, Ms. Rosenfeld encouraged female professionals to have a zero-tolerance insurance plan for abuse. “Do what in your heart you know is best suited,” she said. “It is easy to get swept up in your ambitions, but no job is worth not being authentic to yourself.”

And Ms. Rosenfeld stated she had championed ladies in the workplace. Fourteen of her staff have gone on to turn into C.E.O.s of major companies, including Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Michele Buck of Hershey.

In 2004, after 23 years at the same company, Ms. Rosenfeld kept Kraft to run the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo. She would have stayed there much longer, however in 2006 she acquired an offer to run her old provider, and became the C.E.O. of Kraft Foods.

At that time, Kraft was dominated by big American brands like Velveeta and its eponymous boxed Macaroni & Cheese. Ms. Rosenfeld set out to switch that. She acquired Lu, a cookie maker with a huge business in European countries. And she place her eye on Cadbury, the British chocolatier.

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Immediately after waiting and watching for just two years, Ms. Rosenfeld approached Cadbury with a hostile takeover bid in 2009 2009. The company resisted, depicting her as a greedy outsider, and appealed to the British general public to protect a cherished national brand. “In an effort to defend themselves, the business draped itself in the Union Jack,” she stated.

To attend meetings through the takeover campaign, she would land at airports exterior London so as not to come to be detected, and look into resorts using the pseudonym Debbie Friedman, her favorite Jewish folk singer.

Some Kraft shareholders, including Warren Buffett, disapproved of the acquisition. “Among the factors Buffett was worried was he didn’t wish to be diluted,” she said.

But Ms. Rosenfeld was undeterred by Mr. Buffett or the British, and the $20 billion offer got done.

At a management assembly in July of 2010, Ms. Rosenfeld stated, she surveyed the room and noticed she was looking at two companies. Hence in 2011, she released the company will be halved – with Kraft focused on savory American staples, and a new company, Mondelēz, focused on a global snacks business. (The name is a Romance terminology mash-up suggesting a world – “monde” – that’s delicious.)

Mondelēz share has risen a lot more than 50 percent during the last five years, but hedge fund managers like Mr. Ackman and Mr. Peltz are rarely happy. Ms. Rosenfeld has dealt with both men for years, and Mr. Peltz today sits on the Mondelēz plank. She grudgingly accepts that activists happen to be here to remain, but said “you will find a short-term orientation that is not necessarily healthy for sustainable businesses.”

As her career winds down, Ms. Rosenfeld – who earned a lot of money breaking glass ceilings and formed the fates of hence many important makes – remains a provider loyalist to the end. She also sees the steady improvement of ladies in the workplace – something she’s championed – as a tailwind on her behalf business.

“We’re seeing increasingly more women not wanting to eat traditional dishes,” she said excitedly. “It’s a great thing for snacking.”

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