‘With the passing of Ivan Menezes, we have lost a great man’
Menezes was a natural leader and produced superb results for Diageo, a company he led brilliantly for close to 10 years
Ivan Menezes (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images for Ketel One)
The untimely passing of Ivan Menezes at the age of 63 is a devastating loss not only for his family and friends, but to the United Kingdom as well.
He was a natural leader and produced superb results for Diageo, a company he led brilliantly for close to 10 years. But what set him apart from many other CEOs was his genuine humility and graciousness.
When I wrote to congratulate him on being awarded a knighthood, he replied in part with these words: “Thank you for your kind words dear Dinny. It was most unexpected. The honour belongs to all at Diageo.” And I know he meant it. He was also an elegant and generous man, full of empathy for those that needed his help.
I was embarrassed to ask him whether Diageo could sponsor a table at the 2022 London Pratham Gala. His reply was swift. “No need to be embarrassed! Pratham are so lucky to have you in their corner. We will take a table personally for the London gala”.
Shibani, his equally empathetic and generous spouse and Ivan bought the highest-priced table themselves. No company sponsored the table for them.
Ivan had a wide network of friends from around the world. All those who knew him held him in high esteem not only for what he had achieved in a life cut short, but also for his human qualities. What a great and good man we have lost.
Dinyar Devitre is vice-chairman of the Pratham Education Foundation and former CFO of the Altria Group