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Diageo names new chief financial officer

Smirnoff owner Diageo has appointed Lavanya Chandrashekar to the role of chief financial officer, taking over from Kathryn Mikells on 1 July 2021.

 Kathryn Mikells
Chief financial officer Kathryn Mikells will leave Diageo at the end of June 2021

Chandrashekar, chief financial officer (CFO) of Diageo North America and global head of investor relations, will become the company’s new CFO on 1 July 2021. She will also join the Diageo executive committee and board.

Mikells will leave Diageo at the end of June to return to the US after nearly six years as CFO.

Mikells moved to London to join the Johnnie Walker owner from the Xerox Corporation in November 2015. During her time at Diageo, Mikells has overseen an ‘exceptional period of performance’ and helped drive the company’s ‘improved’ performance trajectory over the past five years.

In addition, Mikells ran a ‘substantial’ global productivity programme, which led to almost 200 basis points of operating margin growth over a three-year period, Diageo said. She has been ‘critical’ in helping Diageo perform consistently across net sales value, profit, cash and total shareholder return.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, said: “I am immensely grateful for the leadership role Kathy has played in making Diageo a consistent top-tier performer.

“She has made a significant contribution to Diageo’s improved performance trajectory, including her leadership of a substantial global productivity programme and her critical role in active management of our brand portfolio through our acquisition and disposal activities.

“I want to thank Kathy for being a terrific and committed business partner and colleague to me and wish her every continued success in the next chapter of her career.”

Chandrashekar joined Diageo as CFO of the North America business in July 2018. In the role, she has helped accelerate growth for Diageo’s North American arm, which later saw Chandrashekar manage investor relations internationally.

Prior to joining Diageo, Chandrashekar spent four-and-a-half years at Mondelēz International in various senior finance positions in North America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. Her latest role at the firm was as vice president of finance, global cost leadership and supply chain. Before Mondelēz International, she worked at Procter & Gamble for 18 years in senior finance roles.

Menezes added: “I am delighted that Lavanya will take up the role of chief financial officer. She brings a breadth of international experience, has an exceptional grasp of consumer products value creation and world-class experience of effective cost management. I am confident she will be a huge asset to the Diageo executive team and board when she joins on 1 July.”

Mikells and Chandrashekar will start a full handover before their transitions at the end of June this year.

Javier Ferrán, chairman, Diageo, said: “I wish to sincerely thank Kathy for her dedicated contribution to Diageo over the past five years and her exceptional partnership with the board. She has played a significant role in enhancing Diageo’s reputation with key stakeholders and has improved the discipline of Diageo’s capital allocation policy, whilst also returning value to shareholders.

“The board is delighted that there is a strong internal successor in Lavanya Chandrashekar, enabling a smooth transition when Kathy departs at the end of June. Lavanya’s strong track record at Diageo, and previously with leading CPG companies, will ensure she makes a valuable contribution as we continue to make progress on our ambition to become one of the most trusted and respected consumer products companies in the world.”

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