Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes, a long time visionary in the spirits world who helped make Diageo the liquor behemoth it is today, passed away today at age 63 following a brief illness.
He was mere weeks away from retirement.
Menezes joined Diageo at its creation in 1997 and held many senior positions in a career spanning over 25 years at the company, including serving as CEO since July of 2013. During his his decade as CEO, he oversaw what’s described by Diageo as an outstanding period of change, growth and high performance. Diageo today is now selling over 200 brands in more than 180 markets.
Born Ivan Manuel Menezes on 10 July 1959, in Pune, India, he held UK and US citizenship, and Overseas Citizenship for India. At the time of his passing he had his family at his side.
Among the incredible array of notable achievements Menezes accomplished at Diageo, one of the most important to him was being “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% of Diageo’s senior leadership positions today globally are held by women, while 37% are ethnically diverse, well on the way to his target to achieve gender parity in senior leadership and 45% of our leadership to be ethnically diverse by 2025.
Menezes was also involved in charity work. One example of this was having 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.”
“This is an incredibly sad day,” said Javier Ferrán, Chairman, Diageo plc, in a prepared statement. “Ivan was undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation.
“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.
“We are truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a thoughtful and passionate colleague and friend – a true gentleman. He has built an extraordinary legacy.”
Condolences and accolades regarding Menezes came from across the spirits industry, with leaders from the likes of Brown-Forman, Beam Suntory, Rémy Cointreau, Pernod Ricard and Moët Hennessy, among others, issuing statements.
Of particular note as well is a message from the Scotch Whisky Association, the massive trade group for all things Scotch whisky that Diageo is a larger member of, which said in part that “Sir Ivan was a towering figure in Scotch Whisky, who not only helped to shape the global success of the industry but laid the foundation for future generations.
“It is too soon to encapsulate fully the impact he had on the Scotch Whisky industry, that time will come later. But it is as deep and long lasting as the affection in which he was held by those who knew him best. Aside from being a consummate professional, one of the most successful business leaders of his generation, he was a warm and caring human being.
“Through our grief, that legacy will sustain us, encourage us to follow the example he set, and enable us to remember fondly the time we had with him.”
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