SIR IVAN MENEZES, alcoholic drinks giant Diageo’s long-serving Indian-origin chief executive, has passed after surgery on a stomach ulcer. He was 63.
His death came on Monday (5) with his family at his side, the maker of Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka said in a statement, crediting him for shaping Diageo into one of the “most trusted and respected consumer companies.”
He was responsible for developing Johnnie Walker’s iconic campaign ‘Keep Walking’.
“This is an incredibly sad day,” the company’s chairman Javier Ferrán, said, adding he was “undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation.”
Sir Ivan was due to depart from Diageo on June 30, having served the company as its CEO since 2013.
Born in the western Indian city of Pune on 10 July 1959, he held UK and US citizenship and India’s overseas citizenship.
Having previously been the strategy director for Guinness plc, he joined Diageo at its creation in 1997 and held many senior positions in a career spanning over 25 years at the British company.
He became Diageo’s chief operating officer and subsequently oversaw its operations in the Americas and the Asia Pacific.
Sir Ivan was appointed as the company’s executive director in 2012 and served as the CEO from July 2013 till this week.
Now selling over 200 brands in more than 180 markets, Diageo is the number one company by net sales value in Scotch whisky, vodka, gin, rum, Canadian whisky, liqueurs, and also tequila1.
Diageo produced more than 10 million bottles of hand sanitiser for healthcare workers around the world, including the NHS, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sir Ivan announced the $100 million “Raising the Bar” programme to help pubs and bars around the world reopen their doors safely after lockdowns, providing sanitation, PPE, equipment for safer outdoor socialising spaces and staff training.
Before his career with Diageo, the alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and Kellogg School of Management worked for Whirlpool in Europe, Booz Allen & Hamilton in North America and Nestlé in Asia.
He was awarded a Knighthood in January 2023 for services to business and equality.
Sir Ivan is survived by his wife, Shibani and his two children – Nikhil and Rohini.
Diageo’s former chief operating officer Debra Crew was appointed interim chief executive at the start of this week. She had been due to take over as CEO on a permanent basis from next month following Sir Ivan’s planned retirement.