Diageo CMO Syl Saller to departBy Melita Kiely
Diageo chief marketing officer (CMO) Syl Saller will step down after 20 years with the firm and will be succeeded by the current global category director for Scotch and managing director for Reserve, Cristina Diezhandino.
Saller will depart Diageo to focus on leadership development, executive coaching and non-executive roles.
Diezhandino will step into the position of chief marketing officer from 1 July 2020.
Saller said: “Deciding to leave and embark on the next stage of my career is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Diageo is the most incredible company, with people who are talented, committed, and passionate.
“My goal is to go out into the world and develop more of those people. I am very proud of what I’m leaving behind – a strong function that is committed to getting better by learning and growing themselves.
“I’m even more thrilled that Cristina has been appointed our new CMO – she is a remarkable leader, driven by both performance and creativity. Cristina has a deep understanding of brands, markets and operations and is widely respected, unflappable with deep compassion for others.”
Saller started her career at Diageo in the position of GB marketing director in 1999. She was promoted to chief marketing officer in 2013 and has been praised for creating an “outstanding team that has significantly strengthened Diageo’s core brands”.
Among her many achievements, Saller was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2020 Honours List for services to business and equality. Ivan Menezes, chief executive, Diageo, commented: “I have had the privilege to work closely with Syl over many years and we have enjoyed an amazing partnership.
“Syl has always held herself and colleagues to the highest standards while showing great empathy for our people and their success. We are all hugely grateful for her leadership impact in delivering Diageo’s performance and building our reputation as a world class consumer marketing company.
“Thanks to Syl, our pipeline of marketing talent has never been stronger, and I am delighted that Cristina will be our new CMO.”
Diezhandino’s accomplishments include overseeing Diageo’s biggest single investment in Scotch whisky tourism and the work to create an immersive Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh.
Before her current position, she worked as general manager for Diageo Central America and Caribbean, looking after Diageo’s business in more than 37 territories.
Menezes added: “Cristina has consistently shown herself to be a widely respected and resilient leader, able to build high performing teams across geographies and businesses and I look forward to continued brand growth under her leadership.”
Diezhandino said she was “delighted” to be taking up the new role in July and to continue Saller’s “tremendous legacy”.
“Diageo’s purpose of ‘celebrating life every day, everywhere’ is very meaningful to me,” Diezhandino added. “Our business celebrates the special moments we all relish, and the occasions, big or small.
“Our iconic brands are cherished across the world, and our marketing community truly aims to be at the forefront of our industry. I look forward to building the future of our brands and our business with the rest of the very talented Diageo team.”