AIB Featured Business Leader Irene Rosenfeld
Born in New York in 1953, Irene Rosenfeld is the current Chairman and CEO of Mondelez International. For those who haven’t heard of Mondelez, it is the global snacking powerhouse which launched after Rosenfeld made the strategic decision to spin-off the company’s North American grocery operations, Kraft Foods, in October 2012. Under the Mondelez name sits numerous chocolate, biscuit, candy and powdered beverage brands located in 165 countries around the world. These include billion-dollar favourites such as Cadbury, Milka, Oreo, Trident and Toblerone. The company employs around 107,000 people, and has an estimated US$72.56 billion in assets.
According to Forbes, Rosenfeld always had big dreams as a child, with the desire to become U.S. President from a young age. While she has not pursued politics, she has gone on to become one of the highest paid and most influential women in business. Education was a big part of Rosenfeld’s background and knowledge – she holds a Bachelor in Psychology, Master of Science in Business, and a PhD in Marketing and Statistics. The food and beverage industry has always been a passion for Rosenfeld – she began her career at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency in New York, before joining General Foods in consumer research at a later date.
Over the years, Rosenfeld has held a number of leadership roles within Kraft Foods, including the President of North American Businesses from 1981 to 2003. It is during her tenure in this role that she is credited for taking the lead of the restructuring and turnaround of key businesses in America, Canada and Mexico, as well as the ‘highly successful integration of the Nabisco acquisition’. From 2004 to 2006 Rosenfeld served as CEO of Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, where she lead the organisation to develop ‘better-for-you’ products and a range of successful health and wellness offerings.
In 2006, Irene Rosenfeld returned to Kraft Foods where she has gone on to achieve even more positive results. Changes include the reinvigoration of iconic brands, the transformation of the portfolio into high-growth snacks categories and aggressively improving margins. In 2011, Kraft announced that Rosenfeld would stay on as the chairperson of the overall snacking company, which would be called Mondelez International. Tony Vernon was appointed the new CEO of Kraft Foods as Irene Rosenfeld stepped up to Mondelez.
Described by colleagues as “charming, reserved and steely hard” and known for her “competitiveness and work ethic” it is clear that Irene Rosenfeld is an extremely hard worker. In 2008, she was named 6th on The Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch” list, and has been listed numerous times on the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in The World list. Aside from her role at Mondelez, she is also active in numerous community organisations such as The Economic Club of Chicago, the Board of Consumer Goods Forum and The Business Council.
What do you think?
Irene Rosenfeld’s career shows us that with a strong educational background and years of hard work, you can make it to the top. What do you think about her business journey? Comment your views below and please let me know if you’d like to see any other business leaders profiled in the future.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Wikipedia; The Mirror; Bloomberg; Mondelez International; Forbes
Image Credit: Mondelez International