Diageo names Indian-American CEO for North America
Sally Grimes’ parents immigrated to the US from India
Sally Grimes (Photo: Diageo)
DRINKS giant Diageo has named Indian-American, Sally Grimes, as the new chief executive for North America effective 1 October 2023.
The announcement was made less than four months after the sudden death of the company’s group chief executive Sir Ivan Menezes, another Indian-American.
Grimes, 53, was most recently the CEO at Clif Bar & Company, the leading maker of organic energy bars in North America.
Previously, as group president of the Prepared Foods segment of Tyson Foods, America’s largest food company, she ran a $10bn, 25,000-person organisation, reporting into the Global CEO.
The Indian-American’s early career began in banking, followed by multiple positions within large consumer goods companies, from Kraft Foods to Newell Brands.
Grimes will report to Debra Crew, chief executive and will join the Diageo executive committee, the company said in a statement.
“Sally’s appointment further strengthens our world class executive team at Diageo. Sally brings a significant depth of experience in the consumer goods sector in North America and has a proven ability to drive substantial growth in businesses. I’m confident that with these appointments, we are set up to win at pace in North America,” said Crew.
The company also named Claudia Schubert as president and chief operating officer, North America.
Grimes, originally named Shobana, hails from Bourbonnais, near Chicago. Her upbringing was shaped by her parents, immigrants from India who arrived in the 1960s to further their education, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Shobana’s Indian name means ‘bright’, while her middle name, Sally, was chosen in tribute to her mother’s first American friend upon her arrival in the US
Her mother, a dietitian with a focus on the science of food, instilled in her a deep appreciation for the significance of food in their culture. Grimes attributes her empathetic nature to her parents, who had a welcoming, open-door approach to helping others—a trait she associates with immigrant culture.
According to the Tribune report, even as a child, Grimes displayed a blend of creativity and business acumen. She crafted greeting cards and homemade cookies, successfully selling them to neighbours.
Her father, an administrator at a veterans hospital, encouraged her to pursue a career in finance. Following his advice, she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Valparaiso University and gained experience at First Citizens Bank before pursuing an MBA at the University of Chicago.
After completing her business studies, her career kicked off at Kraft, where she began as an associate brand manager, working on the iconic ‘blue box’ Kraft Macaroni & Cheese business.