Boss of Guinness maker Diageo dies at 63
Ivan Menezes, the esteemed chief executive officer of Diageo, the world’s leading spirits company, has sadly passed away at the age of 63.
Diageo made the announcement that Menezes died after a brief illness, with his beloved family by his side during his final moments.
Menezes, who held dual British-American citizenship, was born in the Indian city of Pune, adding an international flair to his background.
Tragically, his passing came just before his anticipated retirement at the end of the month.
Before his remarkable journey with Diageo, Ivan Menezes held significant positions in marketing and strategy at Nestlé, a renowned food and beverage giant.
His entrance into the Diageo family occurred in 1997 when the company was formed through the merger of Guinness, the iconic brewery giant, and Grand Metropolitan, a London-based conglomerate.
From that point forward, Menezes’s career soared within Diageo as he assumed various senior roles, ultimately leading to his appointment as CEO in July 2013.
Regarded as one of the finest leaders of his generation, Menezes played a pivotal role in shaping Diageo into one of the most trusted and respected consumer companies worldwide.
His dedication, vision, and exceptional leadership skills earned him admiration and respect from his peers and colleagues.
Diageo chairman Javier Ferrán expressed his deep sorrow, describing the day of Menezes’s passing as incredibly sad and praising Ivan as a true leader who played a vital role in the creation and success of Diageo.
Not only did Menezes leave an indelible mark on Diageo, but his influence extended beyond the company as well.
Fellow business leaders have been sharing heartfelt tributes to honor his memory. Laxman Narasimhan, the chief executive officer of Starbucks, reflected on his interactions with Menezes throughout the years, recounting their shared experiences as CEOs of Indian origin leading their respective companies through the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Narasimhan described Menezes as classy, bold, kind, thoughtful, and incredibly modest, referring to him as a “gentle giant” among leaders.
Alexandre Ricard, chairman and chief executive of French drinks company Pernod Ricard, reminisced about Menezes being among the first to congratulate him on his own appointment in 2015.
Ricard highlighted Ivan’s genuine and authentic nature, which remained steadfast even in the competitive business world. The loss of Menezes is mourned by leaders across the industry, and he will be deeply missed by those who admired and respected him.
Menezes’s tenure at Diageo was marked by numerous accomplishments and milestones. As the global marketing director, he played a pivotal role in the creation and success of the iconic Johnnie Walker “Keep Walking” campaign, which was launched in 1999.
This campaign, known for embodying the spirit of progress, resilience in the face of adversity, and unfiltered optimism, continues to be a cornerstone of the Johnnie Walker brand.
In 2012, Ivan Menezes was appointed as an executive director of Diageo, solidifying his influential position within the company. The following year, he ascended to the role of chief executive officer, where he steered Diageo through a period of remarkable growth.
Under his guidance, the company’s sales flourished, bolstered by strategic acquisitions of various brands, including the popular Philippine rum brand Don Papa.
Today, Diageo boasts a portfolio of over 200 brands that are marketed in more than 180 countries, a testament to Menezes’s exceptional leadership and strategic acumen.
Earlier this year, Menezes announced his planned retirement from Diageo, with his departure set for