» Business » Diageo's India-born CEO Ivan Menezes passes away

Diageo's India-born CEO Ivan Menezes passes away

Source: PTI
June 07, 2023 13:38 IST
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Ivan Manuel Menezes, the India-born CEO of the world's biggest spirits company Diageo, died on Wednesday, days after being hospitalised for treatment of stomach ulcer.

Ivan Manuel Menezes

Photograph: Reuters

Menezes, 64, who was to retire at the end of this month, died in London, the company said.

"It is with great sadness that Diageo announces that Sir Ivan Menezes has passed away following a brief illness, with his family at his side," it said in a statement.

Diageo had on Monday announced that CEO-designate Debra Crew will assume the top role on an interim basis immediately as Menezes undergoes medical treatment.


"Over the weekend, we learned that Ivan's recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer," Diageo had said in a statement.

Pune-born Menezes, whose father Manuel Menezes was the chairman of Indian Railway Board, was educated at the prestigious St Stephen's College in Delhi and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad before going to Kellogg School of Management.

Menezes joined Diageo in 1997 after its formation through the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan.

He rose quickly in the ranks to become an executive director in July 2012 and chief executive officer in July 2013.

His brother Victor Menezes is the former chairman and CEO of Citibank.

Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker whisky, Tanqueray gin and Don Julio tequila, had on March 28 announced the appointment of Crew to replace Menezes.

"This is an incredibly sad day. Ivan was undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation," Javier Ferrán, Chairman, Diageo plc, commented.

"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."

He is survived by his wife, Shibani and two children, Nikhil and Rohini.

Born on July 10, 1959, Menezes held UK and US citizenship, and Overseas Citizenship for India.

He was one of Britain's longest serving and most respected FTSE chief executives, transforming Diageo into the world's leading premium drinks company and which accounts for 10 per cent of the UK's total food and drinks exports.

"During his decade as CEO, Ivan oversaw an outstanding period of change, growth and high performance.

"Diageo made huge strides towards his ambition that Diageo should become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected companies in the world," the firm said.

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 tequila1, a category in which only eight years ago the company had no substantive position.

Prior to joining Diageo, he worked across a variety of sales, marketing and strategy roles for Whirlpool in Europe, Booz Allen & Hamilton in North America, and Nestlé in Asia.

In January 2023, he was awarded a Knighthood for services to Business and to Equality in His Majesty The King's 2023 New Year Honours List.

Ferrán said he saw first-hand Menezes' steadfast commitment to 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," he said.

"His passion for our brands was second-to-none and in his heart, he remained the Johnnie Walker marketer from his early days.

"The desire to build the world's best brands never left him."

A true gentleman, he built an extraordinary legacy, he said.

"Ivan leaves behind many friends and a beloved family, and our thoughts are particularly with his 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," he added.

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